Everyone needs an estate plan. It doesn’t matter if you have few estate assets, are living your best life in your 20s, or don’t have close ties with your family members. Estate planning allows you to prepare for unexpected events and ensures the right people or organizations inherit your personal property at your time of death. An estate planning questionnaire can make the process easier and help you in developing proper estate planning alternatives.

Why do you need an estate planning questionnaire at all? The truth is, the estate planning process is not one everyone is willing to undergo. For one, many California residents are busy with their lives and do not have the spare time to go through the hassle of doing paperwork that also entails paying a visit to the estate planning department. Second, this isn’t the most enjoyable topic to consider since it entails identifying the key person to inherit your property when you die. Many people do not like thinking about death through is sure to happen to everyone!

However, if you’re willing to put in a bit of time, completing an estate planning questionnaire and setting up an estate plan could save your loved ones a lot of time and hassle of distributing your investment assets. In this article, we’ll discuss the preliminary steps of estate planning and what you can do now to get the ball rolling about developing a clear estate planning review.

The Cost of Estate Planning

Before we dive deeper into the preliminary steps of estate planning, it is important to take a peek at basic information about estate planning. Let’s spend a moment looking at the normal components and costs of estate planning for your real estate.

There’s no getting around it: estate planning can get expensive depending on the values of assets involved. The average cost is around $3,500. This may vary depending on your situation, the legal assistance you plan to seek, and the complexity of your estate plan. If you pay an hourly rate for a lawyer, for example, be prepared for costs to add up. The average hourly cost for an estate planning lawyer is hundreds of dollars.

The good thing is that while a lawyer gives you a sense of safety and security, there are also registered legal document assistant services available in California that are far less expensive compared to hiring a qualified estate planning attorney. For instance, A People’s Choice offers several packages that you can choose from depending on your needs and the nature of personal estate planning.

Their most sought-after package is the “Trust Package” which already includes a trust, will, certificate of health, healthcare directive, and financial power of attorney for as low as $450. You may also select a trusted company to oversee your estate distribution when you die. The main activity will entail handing over the trust property to heirs.

A People’s Choice Estate Planning Questionnaire

Structuring an estate plan is not an overnight task. It requires the careful gathering of information to ensure that your estate plan is 100% accurate and error-free.

To help you include important details, the first thing that you should do is complete our estate planning questionnaire. It gets designed to lay out the foundation of your estate plan that best suits your preferences for your real estate. If you choose to hire a lawyer, they may also use a questionnaire so they have an understanding of your expectations and assist you in meeting your end-of-life wishes based on your outlined beneficiaries of trusts.

Rest assured that your information is treated with the utmost confidentiality. The information you provide will never be released and divulged to other people without your consent or trust agreement.

Content of Our Estate Planning Questionnaire

The questionnaire is designed for either couple (married or unmarried). There may be questions that are only applicable to married couples that have minor children in their custody. The direction of your estate plan will heavily depend on your civil status. Nonetheless, whether you are single or married with additional children, we highly encourage you to fill out the estate planning questionnaire to get started with the planning process for your real estate.

Our fillable questionnaire is in multiple-choice format and only takes a minute or two to complete filling the blank form. Different law firms and document assistant services make different formats of questionnaires depending on the form of ownership of the estate. Some more in-depth questionnaires may ask for personal information, family information, current documents, financial information, decisions to make, and miscellaneous other tidbits.

Therefore, as a form owner, you need to provide all the reliable details. Some questionnaires may also allot one page for supplemental information just in case you have additional information you would like to include in the narrative form. In case you run a business, you’ll need to outline the nature of the business and its form of organization.

Four Further Estate Planning Questionnaire Questions

If you’ve already taken our questionnaire or you just want to delve deeper into the estate planning process, you might want to consider the following four questions on a piece of paper or a word processing document. These will help you think more about your situation and decide what type of estate planning is right for you.

Question 1. What are your goals?

“Do you wish your business to continue after your death? Do you want to make sure that your family gets taken care of? Do you plan to give a specific asset of yours to someone?”

Answering these questions allows you to envision the content of your estate plan and potential corporate trustees. While different people have different purposes of planning and handing over their property to trustees, it is undeniable that setting goals give direction to your estate plan. A good plan for your financial assets plays a critical role in developing a viable trust agreement. The estate plan should also outline items titled to a revocable trust.

Question 2: What are your assets?

Some people are unmotivated to create an estate plan just because their non-retirement assets and pension plans are relatively small in value compared to what we usually watch on TV or in movies. But this should not be the case! No matter how small your total assets are, you want them to be in good hands even after you leave this earth.

In listing your assets, it is important to note how ownership is classified. Whether this is jointly owned, a common property, or solely-owned property matters. It determines how your assets get treated when the evaluation of your estate plan begins.

Question 3: Who are your beneficiaries?

You may have completely listed your assets, but is it enough to ensure that things will go well even after your death? If your assets do not have designated beneficiaries, your estate will probably need to go through a probate trial to assess who should get what from the probate estate. Listing your beneficiaries to your specific assets will ensure a seamless process of inheritance. When indicating the potential beneficiaries for your estate, you need to include information about minor children. Also, if you have deceased children, you need to include this in the questionnaire.

Not only does listing beneficiaries speed up the process later, but it also gives you an insight as to who is important to you and how equitably your possessions and accidental death benefits could get distributed among your beneficiaries. Finally, listing your beneficiaries now helps you form a plan that could prevent disputes in the future from persons not included in the estate plan. So take a moment to list your family, friends, favorite charities, and anyone else who might get a chunk of your estate, and think about who should get what.

Question 4: What type of estate planning do you want? 

The type of estate you need is determined by the specifics of your situation. But no matter how big or small, these four major legal directives could get included in your estate plan. Being aware of these can help you determine how to organize things.

  • Will

A will is necessary for every estate plan. This is the only component on here you can’t skip. It’s a document that provides details about the distribution of property after your death. You may also include the name of the executor who will manage your assets and the process of transferring them to your beneficiaries after your death. Information regarding your proceeds of life insurance can also get included in the will. The various life insurance features should get defined clearly.

There are two types of living trust: the revocable and irrevocable living trust. The former allows you to designate a portion of your assets to your trustee for special care while you are still alive. Meanwhile, an irrevocable trust is a document that you cannot change or revoke. An advantage of a living trust is that it bypasses probate proceedings if you should pass away.

  • Healthcare Directive

Sometimes, it happens that you can no longer make health care decisions for yourself, perhaps due to your incapacitation. In your estate planning, you may designate a trusted person who can make decisions about your medical care on your behalf should this occur.

  • Financial Power of Attorney

Just like the previous directive, a financial power of attorney gives a trusted person permission to handle and manage your finances should you become unable to do so. Meanwhile, a durable power of attorney is a special type of directive that is only effective until your time of death.

For more on types of estate plans and the paperwork necessary, check out this article here.

Should I Hire a Lawyer?

What Is a Probate judge

At this point, as you consider the full weight of this task, you may have realized that estate planning is not something you can do on your own. You need other people to guide you throughout the process of creating your estate plan. For instance, you may think you need a lawyer by your side to help you especially about the legalities that are unfamiliar to you.

However, it is also true that hiring a lawyer is costly, and not everyone has that privilege. Fortunately, it probably isn’t even necessary! You can still proceed with making your estate plan even without the presence of a lawyer. We at A People’s Choice offer inexpensive legal document assistant services that can assist you for a fraction of the price of a lawyer.

Getting Started with Estate Planning

Once you’ve filled out our estate planning questionnaire, the next step is to find a good checklist. In general, an estate planning checklist will allow you to set your expectations beforehand and ensure that your estate plan will get crafted per your personal needs and preferences. To get started, take a look at our free five-step estate planning checklist.

We understand the hassle and the cost of preparing your estate planning documents and the cost of hiring a lawyer to do things for you. Luckily, A People’s Choice uses the same estate planning software that the majority of California attorneys use. Furthermore, we offer you flexible choices as to how you prefer to gather your necessary information, be they a one-to-one interview or a printable interview worksheet. You will also receive the necessary help concerning the filing of estate tax returns.

If you would like to start planning, do not hesitate to contact us at 800-747-2780. We can guide you throughout the process and help you save hundreds of dollars for your estate planning!