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Decided to Start Your Estate Plan

Decided to Start Your Estate Plan? Here Are the Key Questions You Need to Ask

For many, tax season means renewing your annual promise to finally get your estate plan in order. This year is different, though. After the Covid-19 pandemic, many realize that the future is uncertain and being prepared is crucial. If you are among the millions who have finally decided to start your estate plan, these are the key questions you need to ask.

1. What Documents Are Needed?

A will is just the start of a complete estate plan. A healthcare directive and durable financial power of attorney are also needed, and, in some cases, a revocable living trust is, too. Together, these documents ensure not only that your assets are properly distributed when you pass, but that people are in place to care for your health and finances should you lose the ability to do so.

2. Who Are You Planning For?

While some elements of your plan, such as your healthcare directive and financial power of attorney, serve to protect you, most of the work of estate planning is directed at protecting loved ones. Accordingly, the first step to getting started is taking an account of everyone who depends on your care. This includes minor children who will need not only a guardian, but financial support, elderly or disabled loved ones who depend on you economically and emotionally, pets, and even beloved plants. If you own a business, this also needs to figure prominently in your planning.

3. What Legacy Will You Leave?

Defining your estate planning goals and values is one of the trickier parts of the process. After all, not only numbers, but feelings are at play and often a person’s objectives will not align with their beneficiaries’ hopes and expectations.

As you work out how you wish to distribute your life’s work, consider that fair does not always mean equal and that different loved ones may have different needs, both sentimental and financial. Another consideration is charitable giving and those causes you may wish to support.

Once you have reflected on all of this, it is crucial to gather your family and explain the thinking behind your estate plan. Not only do you diffuse potential future conflict by doing so, but you also provide an opportunity to address elements you may have overlooked.

4. Who Will You Trust to Design Your Plan?

Choosing an experienced estate planning attorney is a crucial part of the process and the sooner you do so, the better. Not only will an attorney ensure your documents are properly executed and your plan achieves your goals, but they will also provide guidance and insight that will help you navigate delicate conversations with loved ones. What is more, a good attorney (unlike a DIY kit) will see you through the process from start to finish which, if you’re lucky, means decades of assistance. After all, an estate plan is a living set of documents that requires revision as your life evolves and grows.

If tax season, Covid-19, or both have you thinking about your broader planning needs, do not hesitate to contact the Law Firm of Christopher W. Dumm by either calling 417-623-2062 or reaching out via the contact form on our website. Not only will we happily talk you through the estate plan design best-suited to your needs, but we will also work with you to ensure your plan stays up-to-date right up until the moment it springs into action.


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