The Basics Of Estate Planning: 7 Legal Tips For Understanding Wills, Trusts & Probate

Basics Of Estate Planning

When you hear estate planning, you get the real estate dealings in your head. But, have you ever wondered if estate planning only involved these things, what is the role of other terms like trusts and wills?

Well, the term estate planning involves much more than what the real estate deals offer. The overall planning princess involves managing and transferring an individual’s assets to their heirs after death. So, you can code it as an organized method to transfer wealth to the next generation.

And that’s how you can trace the connections to terms like a person’s will, trust, or probate. It would help if you contacted a Fairfax estate planning lawyer to get the best information on such things.

But till you find the lawyer that fits your purpose, here are some tips that can help you better understand estate planning.

●  Creating Your Inventory


The first step to introduce yourself to the wider concept of estate planning is by creating an inventory of all your assets. You should find everything you own, and you will be surprised to know about the things you might have forgotten, too. When you have an inventory prepared, you can think of better ways to deal with the requirements of your tangible and intangible assets.

If you hear these things for the first time, you must follow the basic rule. Tangible means anything that can be touched. Hence, all solid things like homes, land, personal possessions, and collectibles fall under this category.

However, the things that can only be felt are intangible; they cannot be touched. It includes the accounts, certificate of deposits, life insurance, funds, bonds, and other plans and policies.

Also, you should see the liabilities that can increase your debt if not paid timely. When you have all these things, it becomes easier to do the dealings and focuses on dealing correctly with the debtors and creditors in unforeseen circumstances.

●  Know Your Family Needs

You should know that the cycle of life and death is uncertain. Hence, it would be best if you thought of ways in which you can protect your family in case any forbidden situation arises in the future. You can see different ways to make a will through online and offline portals.

Also, when discussing protection and coverage, the first thing that hits the mind is getting life insurance coverage. When an agent is helping you with it, you should discuss the features and other things like validity and conditions.

Also, you can go through tips and tricks on portals offered by bankers and financial analysts. For example, if you consider adding someone as a backup guardian, you can discuss this idea or search for related information.

●  Directive Establishment


While learning about estate planning, you must focus on important legal directions. Also, while you are doing this, you will get suggestions like making a trust. However, it would help if you discussed this with experienced people and professionals dealing with such requirements.

A trust can be an appropriate option when you plan to put your assets in a single place and hire someone who will be known as a trustee. Such a person will help in the management of your assets. They will do such things for your benefit or that of your beneficiaries.

You can let the trustee take over whenever you fall ill or incapacitated. In a forbidden situation like death, the assets will be transferred to the beneficiaries, bypassing the probate.

Probate is the court’s way of distributing your assets. Further, you can see if establishing an irrevocable trust works for you. It cannot be revoked or changed by the creator.

You can work on things like getting in touch with a durable financial power to manage financial affairs better. If there are other concerns, you can contact a professional who can help you with limited powers. The step will help limit the powers of the representative you name.

● Decode The Beneficiaries

The documents will spell out your wishes but don’t need to be all-inclusive. Hence, you should take steps that help track the beneficiary designations. Also, you should see whenever there is a need for updates.

You should see the kind of people you are surrounded with and decide your beneficiaries accordingly. You should check the ongoing plans and insurance accounts. The beneficiary section should not be blank. It would help if you got it changed or updated. If you don’t fill it, your assets will be distributed in probate based on the state rules.

Also, it would help if you focused on making people your contingent beneficiaries owing to life’s uncertainties.

● Know The Laws

The idea of estate planning is to reduce estate and inheritance taxes. Many people are always on the lookout to stop paying these taxes. However, it would help if you got an idea about the federal-level laws followed by the estate taxes. It would help if you discussed with professionals whether you are a part of the exemption amount.

Also, you should see whether your property is subject to inheritance taxes.

● Professional Help

You have to decide the kind of help that you need that helps in better understanding and planning. You can look for online solutions if your requirements are less simple. However, attorneys play a better role if you want to be a part of the elaborated process and have doubts related to the same. Also, estate attorneys play a major role in large and complex estate requirements and understanding.

● Consider Reassessments

However, if you see changes in your life that should impact your inventory and assessments, you should not delay catering to such a requirement. You can call your attorney and get the changes done at the earliest.


Estate planning is a wide term; when you think of digging deep into it, it will feel like going into a thick soup. However, these steps will help you get an edge over estate planning and its related terms. These steps will provide clarity, and you can better decide about your future expenditure, savings, and investments.