Estate planning can be a very simple process especially if you have an estate of a fairly modest size. All that is necessary is a little bit of planning and determination to get things done for your own peace of mind and the security of your family. When done correctly these four steps should provide you with a responsible estate plan that will only require small modifications over the years.
Making a will is usually the first thing on the mind when people start estate planning in Vermont. For that reason it is sometimes best to get it done first. Writing a will is little more than defining all of your assets and listing who you wish to inherit which asset. Make sure your will is written in clear, easy to understand, language. The number one mistake people make is attempting to add legal language to their will which will only confuse an executor later on.
Do not feel obligated to list complete account numbers. Some people are hesitant about doing this for security issues since wills often become public knowledge. Once the will has been completed to your satisfaction sign it in front of three witnesses. In order for a will to be valid in Vermont the will must be signed by three or more individuals, at the same time, in your presence.
Remember that it is always possible to end up in a coma or otherwise incapacitated. Plan for this emergency situation when you are deciding how to dispose of your estate. Find a trust worthy individual be it a professional or a friend to act as your agent in the event that you are no longer able to manage your estate. Create a durable power of attorney that will let your agent manage all of your finances on your behalf.
This is a step that most people overlook. It is important that you name or specify a beneficiary for all of your accounts. This should be done for all retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and bank accounts. The person name will automatically receive these funds after your passing.
The final step is the one people often avoid to save money but it should be done. Consult an attorney specializing in estate planning in Vermont to go over your will, power of attorney, and other documents. They will be able to give advice and correct errors.
If you are ready to begin planning for your estate, it would be wise to consult with an Estate Planning Attorney. This can be a complicated process, and a professional can help you plan accordingly.