Do you ever procrastinate? Everyone has at some time or another, and estate planning is no exception in this regard. However, estate planning is one of those tasks that you shouldn’t put off for long. Estate planning has significant benefits if you become incapacitated or die unexpectedly, leaving behind potential heirs. An estate planning flowchart can help you put your procrastination behind you and get started today.
What exactly is an estate planning flowchart? An estate planning flowchart helps to streamline every process in your estate planning journey. Since you can’t predict the future, a flowchart may help you develop alternatives if things don’t go as per the current plan. Want to know how to create your own estate planning flowchart? Read on!
The Advantages of an Estate Planning Flowchart
The definition of “estate planning flowchart” is simple—it’s a visual representation of your estate plan. It describes how you want your estate assets to be distributed when the right time comes through a step-by-step process. This flowchart makes the estate planning process much more palatable in the following ways:
Ease of Comprehension: Since a flow chart presents your estate plan as a visual diagram, you can use it to easily determine the right strategies to distribute your accumulated wealth. With the diagram, you can quickly see how much income will go into taxes and what each beneficiary will receive, which helps you plan effectively.
Management of Various Recipients: This visual representation diagram also enables you to determine what percentage of your complex asset types will go to beneficiaries and the amount you would like to donate to charity.
Identification of Alternatives: This diagram displays potential alternatives when you need additional advanced planning tools. It seeks to streamline every process during your personal property distribution. For instance, if a beneficiary dies before you, you can use your chart to identify an alternative person to receive that portion of the inheritance.
How to Create Your Own Estate Planning Flowchart in 7 Steps
Are you ready to create your estate planning flowchart to help develop an effective estate plan? Since you would like your beneficiaries to receive the intended share of your estate property, it’s prudent to develop a clear flowchart for common planning strategies. You can create your own estate planning flowchart in the following 7 steps.
1. Make a Detailed Outline of All Your Assets
First, you have to determine what you own. Developing a good inventory will guide you on how to distribute the assets among potential heirs. You need to inventory both the tangible and intangible assets under your ownership. The following lists describe the potential assets you could own:
Potential Tangible Assets
- Real estate, including land or a home
- Valuables such as antiques, trading cards, or coins
- Personal possessions
Potential Intangible Assets
- Stocks and bonds
- Saving accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Business ownership
- Life insurance policy
- Health savings accounts
2. Appraise Your Assets
Once you’ve developed a bullet-point checklist of your tangible and intangible assets, you must then estimate their value. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make valuations for real estate and accounts using your latest home appraisals or financial account statements.
- Take note of depreciation or appreciation of asset values over time as much as possible
- In cases where you don’t have clear ways to estimate the value of specific items, develop a valuation based on how your heirs would look at them, taking into consideration sentimental value.
3. Address the Needs of Your Family
An estate plan isn’t complete without considering your family dynamics. A family situation demands that you address the needs of every individual you might leave behind. Here are a few factors you may need to consider.
Life Insurance: When you die, your family shouldn’t worry about life insurance policies. Determine the amount of insurance your family needs now so they’re protected in the long run, no matter what happens. Such factors will entirely rely on your income. If you have a kid that requires special attention or is in college, your life insurance must appropriately cater for this a well.
Arrangements for Kids: Who will take care of your minor children if something happens to you? Even if you have already identified one individual in your current estate plan, you need to look for a second person as a backup (if the first individual dies or becomes incapacitated). Having a clear guardianship for your children can also minimize family court fights concerning property distribution.
Family Business: Are you a business owner? If so, you need to state how your spouse or your blended families will have access to important assets such as family business. You may wish to work with financial planners for your business to make some of these arrangements.
4. Outline Legal Directives in Your Estate Planning Flowchart
As part of the estate planning process, you need to outline how you want key decisions made when you die. Your basic directives in your estate documents may include the following.
Medical Care Directive
This directive outlines the nature of health care you would want to receive if you’re incapacitated. You can appoint an individual to take care of your medical affairs. Such an individual would make health decisions on your behalf using medical power of attorney.
A trust is a special arrangement to encompass your assets if you become incapacitated, and they’re a crucial part of many estate planning concepts. If you set up trust assets, your assets won’t pass through the tiresome probate process during estate distribution.
There are several types of trusts to choose from for asset protection. When you create a revocable living trust, for example, you can have control over your estate when still alive. Other options may also entail setting up an irrevocable living trust.
For many types of trusts, having a trustee is important. The selected individual will take charge of distributing your property to the designated beneficiaries when the time comes.
Financial Power of Attorney
You can select someone to manage your finances in case a medical condition doesn’t allow you to. The chosen individual will have the right to represent you in any financial and legal situations concerning your estate. They can also pay taxes on your behalf, pay your bills, and manage other complex situations.
Alternatively, you can also develop a limited power of attorney that restricts your chosen financial agent on what they do. This ensures that control over some complex decisions remains with you. For example, you can limit your representative to only sign specific documents or make some specific sales on your behalf.
5. Consider Current Estate Tax Laws in Your Estate Planning Flowchart
When planning your estate with asset flow charts, you need to determine the required amount of estate taxes payable. For instance, at the federal level, if your estate exceeds $11.7 million (as of 2021), you must pay estate taxes. If this happens to you, you need to seek a grantor retained annuity trust (GRAT) so that your primary heirs won’t pay large amounts of taxes.
You also need to check with your state to determine the minimum requirements for exclusion from taxes. Remember that inheritance taxes also apply in some states, which means that the heirs of your assets will need to pay some taxes on them.
6. Regularly Update Your Beneficiary List in the Estate Planning Flowchart
When you create visual flowcharts for estate planning, use them to ensure only the right people receive your inheritance. This may change over time. For instance, if you named your ex-spouse as part of the beneficiaries but you are now married to someone else, you need to update that in your asset flowchart to minimize any future conflicts.
You also need to have a close flowchart review of your retirement and insurance accounts at regular intervals or after major changes in your finances. These accounts usually have beneficiary designations that you need to constantly trace using additional flowcharts. Remember that not indicating proper beneficiaries in your will could easily cause property to go into intestacy (probate without a will).
7. Regularly Reassess Your Estate Planning Flowchart
Estate planning is a dynamic process. Things change over time, and so should your plans. For instance, you may divorce, remarry, have another child, or lose a loved one during this period of time. A depreciation in asset values or rise in digital assets may take place. A law change in the federal or state government may also affect your estate planning. You, therefore, need to revise your estate planning documents regularly to update various details and make adjustments to current documents.
Don’t worry; conducting an estate planning flowchart review isn’t that much work. You’ve already made a significant step by drafting recommendations for your estate plan, so revising won’t take much time or effort.
Do You Need Assistance with Creating Your Estate Planning Flowchart?
If you need help with your estate planning flowchart, you need to seek the services of a legal document assistant like A People’s Choice. At A People’s Choice, we will guide you in every step to ensure you develop concise custom flowcharts for your estate plan. With our team of great legal professionals alongside our wide experience, we guarantee the best of services. Just contact us on 800-747-2780 or visit this page to get started today!
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