8 Steps to a Basic Estate Plan

January 23, 2023
Erin Calpin, Esq.

An estate plan is a set of legal documents and instructions that outline how a person's assets will be managed and distributed after their death or incapacitation. It typically includes a will, trust, power of attorney, and advance healthcare directive. The goal of an estate plan is to ensure that a person's wishes are carried out, and that their assets are distributed to their loved ones in an efficient and tax-efficient manner. An estate plan can also help to avoid probate and minimize legal costs.

What are the Basic Steps to Creating an Estate Plan

It’s important to point out that there are several unique attributes to every complete estate plan. While the following steps may be slightly changed depending on your specific needs, the steps to basic estate planning include:  

  1. Assess your assets: Make a list of all your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property. Determine their value and any outstanding debts or liabilities.
  2. Identify your beneficiaries: Decide who you want to inherit your assets, and in what proportions.
  3. Choose an executor: An executor is the person who will manage and distribute your assets according to your will.
  4. Create a will: A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after your death. It is one of the most important parts of an estate plan.
  5. Consider a trust: A trust is a legal arrangement in which a trustee holds and manages assets for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. Trusts can be useful for minimizing taxes, protecting assets from creditors, and providing for loved ones with special needs.
  6. Appoint a power of attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
  7. Create an advance healthcare directive: This is a document that outlines your medical treatment preferences in case you become incapacitated and unable     to make decisions for yourself.
  8. Review and update your estate plan: As your life circumstances change, you should review and update your estate plan to ensure it continues to meet your     needs and reflect your wishes.

It is important to note that you should consult with a New Jersey estate planning attorney in the creation of an estate plan to ensure the plan is legally binding and enforceable.

Is There Such a Thing as a Basic Estate Plan?

There is no one-size-fits-all estate plan, as each person's situation is unique. This basic estate plan provides a way for your assets to be managed, in case of incapacity, and to ensure that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after death. However, depending on the complexity of your assets, tax situation, or other specific needs you may have, you may need to consider additional steps or documents like trusts, to ensure your estate plan meets your needs and wishes.

The Importance of Working with an Estate Planning Attorney on a Basic Estate Plan

Working with an estate planning attorney can be important for a basic estate plan for several reasons:

  1. Legal expertise: An estate planning attorney is trained in the legal aspects of estate planning and can help ensure that your documents are legally binding and enforceable.
  2. Tailored advice: An attorney can review your specific circumstances and provide tailored advice to help you create an estate plan that meets your needs and goals.
  3. Avoiding mistakes: An attorney can help you avoid common mistakes, such as not properly executing documents, that could lead to your estate plan not     being carried out as you intended.
  4. Estate tax planning: An attorney can help you with estate tax planning, which can help you minimize the taxes your beneficiaries will have to pay on your estate.
  5. Review and update: An attorney can help you review and update your estate plan as your life circumstances change, to ensure that it continues to meet your     needs and reflect your wishes.

By working with an attorney, you can have peace of mind that your estate plan is legally sound and that it will achieve your intended goals. An attorney can also be an important resource in the future if any questions or issues arise regarding your estate plan.

Reach Out to a Trusted Estate Planning Attorney Today

If you’re ready to begin your estate plan, we encourage you to get in touch with our estate planning attorneys. We understand the unique nuances of different estate plans which is why we always go the extra mile to ensure that you have the tools, resources and support that you need as you begin to make these important decisions. For more information about our estate planning services or to speak to one of our estate planning attorneys, we encourage you to get in touch with us. We are here for you regardless of the complexity of your estate or your estate planning needs.



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Borenstein, McConnell & Calpin, P.C. is a Wills & Estate Planning law firm serving Central and Northern New Jersey, as well as New York City. We strive not only to give you a great client experience, but to become your trusted adviser for life. To reach Alec, please send an email to alec@bmcestateplanning.com.

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