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Things You Should Consider Before Drafting Your Estate Plan

David G. Bale Jan. 13, 2022

The only thing you need not consider before drafting an estate plan is whether you need one. Every adult needs one, even if it is basic. Building an estate plan is all about defining your goals and creating a plan that will achieve them. In order to set goals, you need to consider a range of issues.

David Bale understands the importance of setting goals and ensuring legacies large and small. No two clients are alike nor are their goals. That is why he invests the time it takes to educate clients about estate planning. He helps them explore their options and creates a plan to help them achieve those unique goals.

Hundreds of clients in Westerville, Ohio, Worthington, New Albany, and throughout Delaware and Franklin counties have relied on The Law Office of David G. Bale for estate planning expertise and experience. You can, too.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is a process of creating and updating legal documents that express your wishes for management of your assets and desired medical care should you become unable to do so on your own, as well as distribution of your assets and care for minor children when you die.

What Should I Consider Before I Draft an Estate Plan?

There are many things you should consider before and while creating an estate plan. Due to this breadth and depth of considerations, it is wise to work with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. An estate plan improperly executed has no value.

As you begin the estate planning process, ponder these considerations:

What goals do I want to achieve through my estate plan?

Estate plans provide a way to achieve your goals. Therefore, you will need to identify what those goals are to craft a plan that achieves them should you become incapacitated or when you die.

Do your goals include wanting to name a guardian for a minor child or providing for a minor child financially if you die? Do you want to ensure privacy regarding your estate? Do you want to avoid taxes? Do you want your business to continue operating after you are gone? These are just a few of the goals you should discuss with your estate planning attorney.

What are my assets?

Make a list of all your personal and business assets. You should assign a value to each of them when you create your estate plan and update those values over time. Having a list of assets and their values is necessary for you to consider how you will want them distributed among your beneficiaries.

What are my debts?

As important as listing your assets is listing your debts. Your estate plan provides options for satisfying debt when you are gone. This allows you the opportunity to make these decisions rather than the probate court.

Who do I want to name as my beneficiaries?

Beneficiaries and heirs are not the same things. Heirs are those who, by the laws of intestate succession, would automatically receive a portion of your estate should you die without a will or trust. Beneficiaries, on the other hand, are those whom you want to benefit from your estate. Beneficiaries could be individuals or entities, such as nonprofit organizations.

Who do I want to make financial and legal decisions for me?

You can name the person you want to manage your assets and debts for you should you become incapacitated by giving them your power of attorney. You can also name the person you want to administer your will or trust to ensure your expressed wishes are carried out when you are gone. When you name an executor or trustee, you should also name a secondary one in case the primary one is unable or unwilling to serve.

Who do I want to make healthcare decisions for me?

Creating advance directives as part of your estate plan provides the ideal opportunity for expressing your wishes regarding lifesaving and end-of-life medical treatment. You will need to name someone in your healthcare documents to make decisions for you and to abide by the wishes you expressed in your estate plan. It takes different types of people to handle these responsibilities well. Sometimes, those closest to you, such as a spouse or adult child, are well-suited for the task. At other times, a friend may be better equipped to act on your wishes in a life-or-death situation. Your attorney can help you explore your options.

What is my plan for my remains? What kind of funeral arrangements do I want?

You may want to be embalmed and buried in a casket and vault in the family plot when you are gone. You may want to be cremated. If so, do you want your ashes interred, placed in an urn, or scattered? Perhaps you want your body donated to science and a memorial service or just a wake. If you have preferences about what happens when you die, you can express those preferences in your estate plan. You can even provide for how they are paid for.

What charitable causes do I want to support as part of my legacy?

If leaving a gift to your favorite nonprofit organization is important to you, it must be part of your estate plan. Many people choose to leave money or assets to a cause they believe in, an organization that helped them, or to their alma mater. Entities such as these will not be considered by the court should you die intestate. It is important that you leave a legacy to them in your estate plan.

What happens to my business when I can no longer run it?

If you have built a business during your life, what happens to it if you are incapacitated or after you die? If it is sold, who benefits from the proceeds? If you want the business to continue, who will lead it? What happens to partnerships and profits when you are gone? If you own a business, you need a business succession plan as part of your estate plan.

Getting the Experienced Legal Support You Need

These detailed questions may be overwhelming, especially if you know little about estate planning. You need to learn about estate planning to make informed decisions about the one you create. David Bale is as committed to educating you as he is to crafting a plan that reflects your goals.

If you live in or near Westerville, Ohio, call The Law Office of David G. Bale to schedule an initial consultation. There is no time to wait, so call now.