The 10 Step Process to Protect You and All You Love

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The times have changed, and so has estate planning. Below you will find helpful insight into what estate planning is, and discover Gentreo’s online digital estate planning solution that makes estate planning simple, fast and affordable for everyone.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of designating where or to whom your assets will be distributed in the event of your death or incapacitation. Common estate planning documents include a Will, Health Care Proxy (or Advance Directives), Trust, and Power of Attorney.

A comprehensive estate plan is more than just having a Will. Each legal document protects you, your assets, your choices, and your family (even your pet family members) in a variety of circumstances both before and after your passing. You don’t have to be wealthy to have an estate plan; in fact, everyone over the age of 18 needs estate planning documents like a Will, Health Care Proxy, and Power of Attorney.

Estate planning may seem like a complicated process: finding an estate planning attorney, spending countless hours and countless dollars only to have to keep redoing your documents as your choices and circumstances change. But in reality, people have the power to create these documents themselves at an affordable price and on their own time.

What is Gentreo?

Gentreo is the next generation online digital estate planning platform that guides you through the entire process of creating, implementing, and utilizing your estate plan. 

With the help of Gentreo’s expert coaches and intuitive self-guiding platform, you can create your own set of estate planning documents, including a Will, Trust, Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Pet Trust, Pet Power of Attorney, Emergency Card, and more – all at your own pace.

The essential documents everyone should have, that you can create online with Gentreo include:

Will

A Last Will and Testament spells out your last wishes. You can list assets you want to bequeath to beneficiaries of your choice. A Will also allows you to name a guardian for your minor children and adult dependents.

Revocable Trust

You can place assets in a Trust during your lifetime that will go directly to named beneficiaries when you pass. This can avoid the probate process.

Health Care Proxy & Living Will

Also known as a Power of Attorney for Health Care or a Medical Power of Attorney, you can name someone to make health care decisions if you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself. The supplementary Living Will allows you to express medical and health care choices you would want or not want if you become incapacitated and cannot make your own decisions. The Health Care Proxy can also include your Advance Directives and a HIPAA release so that those you designate can make decisions for you and speak to your medical staff when you can’t do so yourself.

Power of Attorney

You can appoint an individual who will manage your legal and financial matters if you are not capable of handling your affairs. This can be limited by both time as well as scope of responsibilities.

Pet Power of Attorney

Provides instructions and grants legal authority to an individual you appoint to care for your pet if you become disabled or unable to care for your pet. This can be used with boarding facilities and pet sitters while away on vacation to ensure your pet is cared for in the event of an emergency and gives those you chose the legal right to make healthcare and financial decisions regarding the care of your pet.

Pet Trust

Let you set aside funds to provide for your pet if they should outlive you, appoint a permanent caregiver for your pet, and name a Trustee and Protector to ensure your wishes are followed and your pet receives the best care after you’re gone.

Gentreo’s 10 Step Process to Protect You and All You Love

  1. Assess your family’s needs: Before setting out to create your estate plan, you should take stock of your financial assets and how you’d like to provide for your family after you are gone. The decisions you make now will have a long-term effect on your loved ones’ future. If your current assets will not be enough to cover their financial needs, you may need to consider a life insurance policy.

As for minor children, you could set up a Trust where you can specify how and when distributions are made, such as when they reach a certain age or complete college. A key element of estate planning is letting you choose someone you trust who would serve as your children’s guardian if something should happen to you and your spouse. Without a Will in place, the courts decide who cares for your children if you cannot.

2. Inventory your assets: List everything you own, including all your tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets include your home, properties, vehicles, valuables, and other personal possessions. Intangible assets are bank/financial accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts/401 (k) plans, ownership of a business, and life insurance policies.

Determine the value of each. Gather the latest financial statements and have your property and valuables appraised. Don’t forget about digital assets, such as passwords and social media accounts. 

3. Establish a plan that is right for you: With the help of Gentreo’s personal coaches, answer some basic questions about your current situation to determine which estate planning documents will best serve your needs. 

4. Name your beneficiaries: Consider who you want to have your home, possessions, and money after you pass. You can leave assets to an individual person or a class of people. But, beneficiaries don’t only have to be individuals or solely people related to you. Beneficiaries can also be a charity or organization as well as your loved ones. 

5. List your debts: Include all your credit card accounts that have balances, mortgages, home equity credit lines, personal/auto/business loans, and any other debt you’ve accrued. Review your credit report annually. You may find old accounts you thought were closed are still open.

Enjoy the peace of mind knowing all your accounts numbers, contact information, and signed agreements are safe in your encrypted Gentreo Digital Family Vault. Make sure to invite trusted friends and family to be members of your Gentreo Team so they know how to access this information when needed. 

6. Appoint an Executor and Trustee: You will need an Executor (also known as a Personal Representative) to take charge of your Will and/or a Trustee to oversee your Trust. The Executor ultimately settles your estate once the Will has finished probate. The Trustee manages the assets in the Trust and distributes them to the designated beneficiaries.

7. Review Estate and Inheritance Taxes: Estates with assets exceeding $11.7 million will be subject to the federal IRS estate tax. This includes real estate, financial accounts, and cash. If you are transferring assets through your Will to beneficiaries upon your death, the taxes owed will be paid by the estate. If assets are bequeathed to your spouse, they are not subjected to the tax.

In addition to the federal estate tax, more than a dozen states have an estate tax. These states have lower exemption limits than the IRS. For example, in Massachusetts, an estate valued at $1 million or more would be taxed. Iowa, Nebraska, New Jersey, Maryland, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania all have inheritance taxes. Beneficiaries inheriting assets over a certain value are taxed. As with the estate tax, surviving spouses are exempt from inheritance taxes. 

You can avoid or decrease any estate or inheritance tax by placing assets into a Trust, gifting, or making donations to charity. Careful planning now can minimize the estate tax and maximize your beneficiaries’ inheritance. Be sure to contact a financial advisor to make sure that you are best protecting your assets.

8. Storing your documents: Once you complete your estate plan, store the documents in your Gentreo Digital Vault where you and those you choose can access them with the click of a button. That way, everyone knows what your wishes are and has the latest documents to make sure those wishes can be upheld.The Gentreo Digital Vault is a secure resource that allows 24/7 access from anywhere in the world that everyone can turn to to find critical documents and information in the event of an emergency.

9. Weigh the value of professional help: If you have a complex and large estate, Gentreo can connect you with its network of licensed attorneys in each state.

10. Plan to reassess and update your estate plan: Life happens. As your life evolves and various events take place (e.g. divorce, having children, buying and selling property, acquiring assets, etc.) so will your estate plan. Each document should be reviewed periodically for accuracy and to ensure that your choices are up-to-date. For example, documents like a Health Care Proxy should be updated once every two years.

Create your estate plan with Gentreo today!

Using the above checklist and Gentreo’s vast array of resources, including expert coaches and extensive library, you can comfortably create your estate plan knowing that you left no stone unturned.

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