Estate planning can often seem complicated, especially with the changes that have been made to the tax law regarding exemptions. The first step is complete a thorough estate valuation. This requires an individual to make a list of each asset, calculate how much each account holds and to categorize the type of asset. Following a few more steps can further assist these individuals.
Another step to take to make the process of estate planning less complicated is to clearly communicate one's wishes with loved ones. A person should also leave a detailed account of where important legal and financial documents are located. Individuals should also list all assets in retirement accounts, life insurance policies, trust assets and potential inheritances so that loved ones can easily access this information when the time comes. Another important step individuals should take is to select carefully someone to which to give power of attorney. This person should be a trusted individual as he or she will be given the power to make financial decisions and transactions on behalf of the individual granting the power. The power of attorney may "spring" upon a certain event, such as the incapacitation of the person granting the power.
Another way to make an estate plan less complicated is to create a living revocable trust. A trust can sometimes protect assets from creditors, including ex-spouses. Trusts can also pass through multiple generations and avoid future estate taxes if planned accordingly.
They may draft a will to help parents appoint guardians for their minor children and make other arrangements to ensure that a person's wishes are carried out.