Folks doing estate planning are trying to cover all of the bases. A big part of the job of an estate planning attorney is helping their clients to look out for blind spots. Take some time to think about these 5 issues you should watch out for.
Paying Off Taxes and Debts
Barring some incredibly unlikely timing, there's a decent chance that there will be outstanding taxes and other bills hanging out there when you pass away. Tax agencies and creditors also happen to be among the parties most able to force an estate into probate.
The best way to prevent that scenario is to make sure they have nothing to complain about. You'll want to have funds set aside in anticipation of paying off those debts. It's also possible to authorize your estate's executor to sell specific assets so there will be money to pay debts.
Taxes, Once More with Beneficiaries!
When you identify someone as a beneficiary of your estate, the assets and money they receive shouldn't end up being a white elephant gift. To prevent them from being stuck with something that might cost them money, you should leave a fund behind in anticipation of the taxes they'll face for inheriting items. It's best to provide a bit more funding than is necessary to be on the safe side, and the executor can then distribute leftover funds when everything is concluded.
Quickly Transferring Items Outside of Probate
If possible, you'll want to transfer assets and accounts outside of the probate process. For example, real estate can usually be transferred to a surviving spouse without much trouble. Similarly, you can set up bank accounts with a payable-upon-death benefit that assigns the money to a specific party.
Trusts are great tools for this purpose, too. A trust can be configured to only come into being upon your passing, reducing administration costs. You also can establish a trust while you're alive and simply move estate assets into it when you pass.
Never assume the executor of the estate will have an easy time finding folks named as beneficiaries. It's a good idea to task your estate planning attorney with updating beneficiaries' information annually so they can be easily tracked down.
Successorship of the Executor
Something might happen to the executor. It's wise to name at least one other person as a successor in case the executor dies, takes ill, declines, or has a conflict of interest. Otherwise, a probate court will have to appoint an administrator in the absence of an executor.