Most Pennsylvania residents understand the importance of estate planning, but many of them find addressing end of life issues extremely difficult. People in the prime of their lives often vow to have these discussions at some unspecified time in the future, but that only delays the inevitable and leaves their loved ones vulnerable to life’s uncertainties. Once the decision has been made to draft an estate plan, the first step is usually compiling a list of all of the assets it will be used to distribute.
Like many daunting tasks, compiling a list of assets can be made easier by breaking the process down into two distinct parts. The first step is making a list of financial assets like bank accounts, retirement plans, investment portfolios and insurance policies. The second step is listing physical assets such as real estate, automobiles, artwork, jewelry and furniture. These lists can then be sorted according to value. During this process, individuals often find that their estate plans write themselves.
This is because the names of heirs will usually come to mind when compiling a list of assets, and writing these names next to the assets on the list takes care of much of estate planning’s heavy lifting. Once this is done, it may be prudent to consult an attorney with experience in this area to determine how assets will be distributed. A last will and testament could be sufficient in some situations, but individuals who are worried about estate taxes or would like more control over how their estates will be administered may wish to consider using trusts.
Attorneys with estate planning experience could explain how having difficult discussions and dealing with end of life issues can provide great peace of mind. Individuals who have an effective estate plan in place are able to enjoy life’s pleasures while knowing that their affairs are attended to and their loved ones will be taken care of. Attorneys may also advise their clients to revisit their estate plans after major life events like divorces to ensure that they still reflect their wishes.