Estate planning is a matter that many people would feel a little bit squeamish about. However, it’s something that should be done, especially if you have several properties and children that would be left behind in the event of your demise. It’s also a good way of protecting your properties and the interests of your heirs or beneficiaries—especially after your death.
When you prepare your property before the end of life, you can secure any remaining responsibilities and even make sure that your last wishes would be followed down to the last detail. Here’s how you can prepare for it:
Make An Inventory Of Your Properties
This is the very first thing you have to do. After all, how can you protect and fully prepare your properties if you don’t know what and how much you really own? You can start by making a list of your assets. This should include personal and real properties, bank accounts, digital assets (if any), and even a life insurance policy.
You might also want to include listing your liabilities so that you can have a rough estimate of the current net worth of your estate. If you have multiple properties across different states, it might be difficult to make an inventory on your own. For that, you may seek the help of an accountant and an asset protection firm like Mile High Estate Planning to make the process easier.
Once you know exactly what you own and their respective values, consider which to keep and which to dispose of before you go. For instance, real properties that have eventually become poor investments must be recovered by selling them. Your heirs will thank you for it, having been saved from inheriting a property of decreasing or stagnant value.
You can get agents to help you strategize on the disposal of the property. Hence, don’t just get any real estate agent. Find someone who is familiar with the area where your property is located. That will make it easier for him to use his knowledge on the property and the locality to find the right buyer.
Write A Last Will And Testament
Once you know the worth and extent of your remaining properties, it’s time to think about how to distribute them. Succession takes place at the moment of death. In other words, your existing properties will pass to your children and surviving spouse once you die. If you want to control how your estate is going to be divided among your heirs, creating a last will and testament is the only way. Through a will, you can allocate specific properties and portions of your estate to specific heirs.
You can also appoint an executor who’ll make sure that your will is truly followed after your death. The executor can also be tasked to keep your properties in good condition as your heirs await the inheritance process. States, however, have varying rules and requisites in the making of a valid will, so make sure to consult a lawyer about this.
Have Your Will Probated
Yes, you can have your will probated while you’re still alive. Along with a probate attorney, you can file a petition in your local court and submit your last will and testament to be probated. In a probate proceeding, a judge will determine the validity of your will. The court will consider these two main things:
- Whether or not the will was executed with the formal requisites prescribed by law.
- Whether or not you, the testator, is of sound mind and was free from undue influence when you made the will.
A will is easier to validate through a living probate as you’ll be there to prove the validity yourself. In fact, it’s harder for anyone to contest the will as you’re still around to disprove unlawful claims. However, not a lot of states allow living probate procedures. Therefore, you still need to check the laws of your state regarding this one.
Preparing your properties before life ends may not be as exciting as getting your dream car or buying your first house. However, it’s how you can ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries can get their rightful share of your estate. It’s also a good way to prevent unwarranted claims against your property. After all, you have worked hard to earn your assets. The least you could do is to make sure that the properties you leave behind will be enjoyed by the people you love.