Essential Estate Planning Ideas, Part 1: Your Estate

Some estate planning ideas are essential to understand before you begin the process of creating your own plan. Though we have been blogging about estate planning concepts for quite some time, some of our new readers may feel left behind. In an attempt to bring newer readers up to speed on some of the more important estate planning concepts we talk about, we’ve decided to start this series of blog posts about some of these essential concepts and ideas. To begin our series, we are going to take a closer look at exactly what we mean when we talk about your estate.

Essential Estate Planning Idea 1: Everyone has an estate.

One of the reasons that so few people actually develop an estate plan is possibly because most people don’t realize what an estate actually is. When we talk about your estate, what we are not talking about is a large piece of land, or a large home. Instead, the legal term “estate” refers to the things you leave behind after you die. Whether you leave behind property, documents that detail your choices, or anything else, all of these are collectively lumped together into your estate. Because everyone will die, everyone will leave behind an estate whether they realize it or not.

Essential Estate Planning Idea 2: Everyone has an estate plan.

Now that you know what an estate is, the idea of making a plan that addresses your estate is easier to understand. An estate plan is simply a collection of choices you make that affect your estate. There are many kinds of decisions you can make when you develop an estate plan, but some of the most common include addressing questions of inheritances, incapacitation, and estate taxes.

It’s also important to point out that the majority of people in this country never actually develop an estate plan. Because of this, lawmakers have enacted legislation that has effectively created default estate plans that apply to everyone. In other words, if you don’t choose to create an estate plan on your own, the pre-existing estate plan imposed under state and federal laws will make your estate planning decisions for you whether you want them to or not.

Essential Estate Planning Idea 3: You have to make your plan in a specific manner.

When you make estate planning decisions, the form in which you make those choices is absolutely essential. The law recognizes your ability to make estate planning choices, but you have to make sure to do so in a way that a court will later accept. So, if creating an estate plan is something you want to do, you need to talk to an estate planning lawyer about how best to go about the process.

If you have more questions about estate planning, be sure to register and attend one of our Estate Planning Workshops.  One of our experienced attorneys will present information about wills, living trusts, nursing home asset protection, probate, and much more.

Be sure to come back to read Essential Estate Planning Ideas, Part 2 next week!

Author Bio

Catherine Hammond is the CEO and founder of Hammond Law Group, a Colorado-based estate planning law firm she founded in 2005. With a strong focus on protecting families from the legal consequences of disability and death, she creates comprehensive estate plans that minimize taxes, costs, and government interference.

A native of Denver, Catherine completed her undergraduate studies at Coe College in Iowa, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in 1993, concentrating on estate planning, tax, and mediation. Catherine is a member of various professional organizations, including WealthCounsel, ElderCounsel, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the Colorado Springs Estate Planning Council, and the Purposeful Planning Institute. Beyond her legal expertise, Catherine provides transformational coaching to support clients and their families through life transitions.

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