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Which Documents Should You Collect for Estate Planning?



Just the idea of estate planning can be overwhelming, and we at Hernandez Joshi hope to make the entire process as streamlined and easy as possible. If you’re feeling anxious and want to be ahead of the game, gather these essential documents to present to your attorney. 


Wills:


An existing will provides valuable insight into your current intentions regarding the distribution of your assets and the appointment of guardians for minor children, if applicable. By reviewing your current will, your attorney can better understand your wishes and goals for your estate plan. Reviewing your current will helps to avoid contradictions or conflicts that may arise between your existing will and any new estate planning documents you create. 


Insurance Policies:


Life insurance policies often represent significant assets within an estate. By gathering information about these policies, including their face value, beneficiaries, and cash surrender value if applicable, you can accurately assess the total value of your estate. Understanding how these policies fit into your overall estate plan can help minimize the time and expense associated with probate administration.


Beneficiary Designations:


Beneficiary designations on various accounts, such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and certain financial accounts, dictate who will receive the assets upon your death. By collecting these designations, you gain a clear understanding of how these assets will be distributed outside of your will or trust. Assets with designated beneficiaries generally pass outside of the probate process, providing a level of privacy since probate proceedings are public records. 


Trusts:


Your attorney will need a clear understanding of the trust's terms, beneficiaries, and assets held within it. Additionally, reviewing trust documents enables alignment with overall estate planning goals, ensuring consistency and avoiding conflicts between the trust and other estate planning documents. Understanding the trust's structure and provisions allows for effective estate tax planning and asset distribution strategies to be implemented, ultimately ensuring that the trust functions as intended and fulfills the grantor's wishes.



Business Documents:


Offering business documents to your attorney before estate planning ensures a comprehensive understanding of the business's structure and assets. It allows for the identification of key stakeholders and facilitates evaluation of succession planning options. By addressing ownership transfer and management responsibilities early, potential disruptions to the business can be mitigated. 



Once you’ve gathered these important documents, your estate planning attorney will work to ensure your needs are met in order to protect your family’s future and provide peace of mind. The attorneys at Hernandez Joshi are ready to begin your comprehensive estate plan, so reach out today for a free consultation!



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