When you start your estate planning, it's important to first outline your goals. What do you want your estate plan to accomplish? What is most important to you? How can you make a plan that meets those goals and then builds on top of them?
To get started, it may help to ask yourself a few fundamental questions, such as:
- If you suffered a serious injury or came down with a terminal disease, do you want doctors to use life-sustaining treatment methods? If so, which ones do you want them to use, and which should they avoid?
- If you passed away without warning, what would happen to your money and assets? Would your family be able to support themselves?
- If you suffered from an injury or illness that made it impossible to make crucial decisions or perhaps even communicate with others, who would make decisions on your behalf? Do they know what you want?
- When passing your assets onto your heirs, what type of tax implications could that have? What can you do to shield them from a surprising tax burden?
- Do you have any special things to consider when dividing assets, such as leaving different amounts to different siblings or giving money to charity?
Certainly, these are not all of the questions that you need to ask, but they can get you started down the right path. The key is to really understand what options you have and what steps you need to take. The specific decisions made are going to vary from case to case, and understanding your options helps you know what is best for your family.