Estate planning is a process that involves more than just specifying how valuable assets such as cash, real estate and other property will be divided. Other items such as family heirlooms may have more sentimental than monetary value, but they can be just as important to your loved ones. Including keepsakes and heirlooms in your estate plan can help your family avoid conflict and give you peace of mind. A Wills and estate attorney can help you create documents that outline your wishes for what should happen to specific items after your passing.
Talk to Your Loved Ones
Unfortunately, many people put off discussing estate planning with their loved ones, which can lead to problems down the road. Make a list of special possessions and the people you would like to give them to. Once you make the list, talk to each person individually and let them know your intentions, or you may want to gather everyone in a group. Each circumstance is different and only you know the best way to navigate your family dynamics. Being clear about your wishes ahead of time can help your family avoid any inheritance disputes.
Gift Items Now
Giving items away now gives you the benefit of seeing your friends and family enjoy the things you love. If you have any items of significant value, talk with your estate law attorney about any long-term care planning or tax implications of gifting while you are still alive. Depending on the circumstances, putting certain assets in a living trust may be more appropriate, and can keep your family from requiring the services of probate attorneys to help settle your estate. .
Create a Personal Property Memorandum
Whether you already have a will or you are in the process of creating one, listing all of your property and who should have it within the will is not convenient or efficient. A personal property memorandum is an accompaniment to your Will, and can be in the form of a simple list or contain detailed instructions. Being as specific as possible is usually the best way to go to avoid any confusion later on. Your wills and trusts attorney can help to ensure this document meets proper legal standards.
Consider a No-Contest Clause
If you believe someone may contest your will, you can include a clause in your estate planning documents that states that an heir who challenges your will (and loses) gets nothing. This clause is commonly called a “no-contest” or “forfeiture” provision and can protect the legacy you want to leave behind.
Our experienced team of estate planning attorneys, real property lawyers and other legal professionals can help you build a personalized, comprehensive estate plan that protects your assets and ensures your loved ones are well taken care of.