You met with an estate planning attorney to establish a comprehensive estate plan that will protect your assets and continue to provide for your family when you cannot. Today you signed your Revocable Living Trust, Pour-Over Will, Property Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will and Medical Directive. You feel pretty good about yourself and pleased that you have taken the initiative to have a plan that will be in effect if you should become incapacitated and when you die. So what happens now?
The first step is to put your “original documents” in safe place that is both fire and water proof. This can be either a safe at home or a safe-deposit box. Should you choose a safe-deposit box, be sure there is a successor owner, or someone other than yourself, that is able to access the contents in the event that something happens to you.
Next, make sure that you have followed your attorney’s instructions on funding your trust. Funding of the trust is the process of retitling your assets in the name of the trust. In some instances you may change beneficiary designations to the name of the trust. Funding is the most important part of making sure your trust will work as you intend. Without funding, you simply have an estate plan that could cost you in probate fees and taxes down the road.
Once you have made sure that you have followed all of your attorney’s recommendations for retitling your assets, it is time to discuss your estate plan with your loved ones. It is helpful for your successor trustee, as well as agents under your powers of attorney, to know what planning you have done, why you have done it, what their role may be down the road, and where to go for help. It is also important to let them know where you store copies of your documents, and where your original documents are kept.
After you have safely stored your documents, funded your trust and spoken with your loved ones concerning your estate plan, you can …. relax and feel confident that you have just taken an important step in securing a plan for your assets so that you and your loved ones will not have to worry in the event that something should happen to you.
It is important to review your estate plan with your attorney every three to five years to be sure it concurs with life events and changes in the Law.
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