Estate Planning

You know the old saying: You can’t take it with you. The Egyptians — and a few others — certainly tried by having their valuables placed in their graves.

But it just doesn’t work. The best thing we can do is let our wishes be known — let our loved ones know how our money and other wealth should be divided. Yet many of us don’t want to think about that…

The truth is: A little planning now can save our loved ones time and money later. Here are some simple steps you can take to make things easier for your loved ones and limit — or avoid — legal and court costs.

* Be sure to name a beneficiary or beneficiaries on your investments. Keep them up to date. When someone you named as a beneficiary or a contingent beneficiary dies, update your records to reflect this.

* Don’t be the sole legal owner of real estate, or even an automobile, unless you’ve consulted an estate attorney about the simplest way your heirs can take legal title. If you don’t, they may have to go to probate court even when there’s not a dispute among your heirs regarding ownership. Another option is to jointly own the property with whomever you want to inherit the property. Ditto for bank accounts. Consider adding your heir or heirs to your bank accounts early and they’ll be able to pay for the funeral with your money, assuming there is enough.

* Consider a living will to let your children and doctor(s) know your wishes regarding your money and resuscitation, life support, mental competency, and long-term care. You may want to consider giving someone the power of attorney, the legal ability to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.