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If you are old enough to have navigated to an estate planning blog, you are old enough to think about your estate plan. If the term “estate plan” sounds too much like focusing on death, you can think of it as your long-term financial plan. What do you want to do when you retire, and how do you plan to pay for this lifestyle? Whom do you want to help financially, and how do you plan to accomplish this? Estate planning is just long-term adulting, but a San Antonio estate planning lawyer can help you act in the interest of your future self and your financial values.

Do Write a Will

Your will is a set of instructions about what will happen to your property after you die. Probate is the procedure by which the court and your executor follow the instructions listed in your will and settles your financial affairs before distributing the remaining money to the beneficiaries listed in your will.  Trusts, payable on death accounts, and certain types of home ownership arrangements make it possible for some or your assets not to be available to creditors or the IRS during probate.

Do Not Follow the Crowd

Do not unthinkingly follow estate planning advice. For example, the “four percent rule” helps a lot of people save enough money for retirement, but everyone’s financial needs are different.  One couple might live large in an upscale condo and a beach house, while another group of lifelong friends lives below their means in a “Millennial Golden Girls” setup. A good estate planning lawyer will find out a lot about your goals before giving you advice on how to structure your estate plan.

Do Share Your Wealth While You are Alive

If helping your family financially is one of your main motivations for getting a head start on estate planning, there is no rule saying that your family has to wait until your estate settles before they start to enjoy the fruits of your generosity. Everyone wins with the annual gift tax exclusion; you can give cash gifts of $15,000 every year to as many people as your budget will allow, and no one has to pay taxes on it. You can also set up a living trust to pay for the education of your children or grandchildren. Taking out student loans for your kids’ education is inadvisable and can tank your estate plan quickly.

Do Not Forget to Enjoy Your Life

Remember, estate planning is about planning for life, not just planning for death. Before you think about trusts, cash gifts, or beach houses, it is time to think about the basics. Long-term care insurance is a must. Paying your own expenses is a prerequisite for leaving any money to anyone else.

Contact Hailey-Petty Law Firm, PLLC About Estate Planning

An estate planning lawyer can help you make the best financial decisions for enjoying your retirement and being generous to your family. Contact Hailey-Petty Law Firm, PLLC in Austin and San Antonio, Texas to discuss your case.