Some individuals may consider an estate plan one of the greatest gifts you could give your family. Allowing surviving loved ones to know your wishes in regards to property distribution, funeral arrangements and other related aspects that will need addressing after your death could help them through what will undoubtedly be a difficult time. However, you may not know what details could prove most useful.
If you do not know where to begin planning, starting with a will may be a useful first step. This document remains relatively standard for many estate plans, and numerous individuals use only a will to disclose their end-of-life wishes. Of course, using only this document may not suit your particular needs, especially since some details do not need included in a will.
As mentioned, you could want to plan ahead for your funeral arrangements to make the situation easier on your family. However, you may want to avoid including these details in your will. The reason for the exclusion relates to the fact that the reading of the will typically takes place after the funeral. Therefore, your wishes may go unknown until it is too late to abide by them.
Instead, you could find it useful to create a separate document detailing your wishes for your funeral. You could leave this document with the executor of your estate or other trusted and responsible party. Additionally, you could discuss your wishes with your family ahead of time so that they can know your plans and talk about any concerns.
Though you may think that a will could act as a catch-all for distributing your assets, some property does not need to be included in the document. Some of your assets may already have beneficiary designations or pay-on-death instructions that will allow life insurance proceeds, retirement funds or other similar accounts to pass directly to an individual or individuals. If you address these accounts in your will, confusion and complications could occur.
Also, any joint accounts or joint property you hold does not need to be mentioned in your will. Those assets should pass directly to the co-owner after your demise.
Creating your estate plan
Creating a will could act as a useful start to your estate planning process. Exploring other planning tools may also help you determine whether additional documents and accounts could help you meet your planning goals and the needs of your estate. Utilizing local Arizona legal resources could help you with this endeavor.