Federal employees will find that estate planning is not as daunting a task as many lawyers make it out to be. Most people, with estates worth less than the federal estate tax threshold, currently $3,500,000, and who know what they want to do with their assets and property can prepare their own estate plans using our free comprehensive Estate Planning Guide and the resources that we reference.
Your personal estate is very simply “your property” – all that you own – at its current market value. The planning that is required does not require you to be a mathematical wiz or rocket scientist – anyone with average intelligence can plan their estate – even without an attorney. The key is to have the proper references to help you through the process. I suggest using the books titled Plan Your Estate to guide your step-by-step through this process and The Executor's Guide to help your loved ones settle your estate. I originally used Quicken WillMaker Plus software to complete my wills, trusts, health directives and powers of attorney in 2004. Since then I hired an attorney to update our estate plans. Wilmaker is good to draft basic documents however as your estate grows and personal circumstances warrant professional involvement may be necessary. These two books cover all states except Louisiana which has a legal system based on Napoleonic Code. You can also visit your local library to review these excellent resource. Many libraries have the two books in their reference section. When I was completing my estate plan I used both book extensively, highlighting important information, underlining text, and writing notes in the margins. I refer to them as situations change and keep it on my reference shelf.
NOTE: Some situations require legal help such as providing long-term care for disabled children. Also, if your estate will be subject to estate taxes and/or you own a business you may wish to consult with a professional. It is wise to review your plan with your attorney in these situations and they can often add additional insight into your particular needs and wishes. The key here is that you will have done much of the leg work up front and your attorney fees should be considerable less if you go through this process
The planning that we propose is useful for estates of any size, from modest to those who were fortunate enough to accumulate estates worth millions. This is especially true for probate avoidance techniques. The guidance offered here and in Plan Your Estate will help you avoid probate and understand estate planning basics.
There is no one-size-fits-all prepackaged estate plan, everyone’s plan is unique and personal. Going through this process will provide you with a much better understating of your true net worth, your personal desires, and estate planning vision. Estate planning pays big dividends up front that at first glance seem transparent. By going through this process you will know who will inherit, what they will receive, where all of your assets are now, your total net worth, and it will help you focus on consolidating and simplifying your estate so that you can start to better manager your assets TODAY. This was a real eye opener for me when I went through this process.
This site along with the recommended books and software will help you address your concerns including: