There is nothing permanent in our lives. We may want to aim for immortality. However, our time on Earth is limited, and one day, our time will come to say goodbye to whoever is left behind. Because of the temporary nature of our lives, have you ever wondered what happens to your property when you die? Leaving property behind may leave a rift and misunderstanding among members. Thus, there is a need to legally and properly divide it to its lawful heirs.
Death may happen abruptly, and thus you need to prepare for its coming. Your assets, especially your estate, are a memorable piece of property that has sentimental value for your children. Don’t let your assets be the reason for disagreements and damage in your family. Besides getting an estate and trust litigation lawyer’s services, you also need a guide on how to do it properly. Here are the steps in legally and adequately dividing your assets to your successors.
List your assets
Fair property division is attainable once you list down your assets thoroughly and find out the legal proceedings that you have to take to equally divide them. If you are divorced, you may also need a divorce decree to identify which assets you don’t own anymore. What are the kinds of assets that you can pass on to your children?
- Real estate refers to your house, second houses, plots of land that you have owned and purchased.
- Business interests refer to any business or company under your own. The co-owned business also falls in this category. To legally include this on your list, make sure to find your operating documents to facilitate your business interest’s smooth transfer.
- Personal property includes any object you owned, such as furniture, clothing, jewelry, books, guns, and gadgets.
- Intellectual property. Those that belong in this category are creative works such as novels and other books and their copyright.
- Trust may include private trusts or public trusts that is transferred to a third person or beneficiary.
Aim for an equal division of your property.
After listing your assets, consider getting the total value of your property. There are several ways of doing this but make sure each heir knows your legal plan. You may also ask your successors if they want sentimental gifts. This kind of gift may not have much monetary value but have a special appeal to your successors. Such gifts may be in the form of a summer camp, a dollhouse that your children will love.
Hire a lawyer in creating a fair division of your property.
A lawyer will assist you from the first step in the division of your property down to the will’s writing. The estate planning attorney can also simplify the process, especially if you are dealing with complex properties. They can also give sound advice on the appropriate vehicle to settle your properties, especially those dealing with heirs with special needs or children from first marriages. The attorney can also give you other options that can make the process easier. If you are looking for an attorney, consider getting a referral from your local or state bar organizations. It would be best to set an appointment before talking to the attorney for a consultation.
Consider the effect of taxes on your assets.
During the consultation with your attorney, talk about the effect of taxes on your properties’ distribution. A competent attorney can discuss solutions to special situations such as those involving inheritance taxes, the allocation of money and property into trusts, and tax consequences in the case of money given to children.
Make regular updates on your estate plan and will.
Through the years, we acquire new properties and thus drafting a will or trust 30 years before your death may only prove futile and irrelevant. As you acquire new assets and properties, you need to update your estate plan and will. You may need advice from your attorney regarding changes in designation and division. Regular updates are also helpful in assessing your property’s true value, as its value may fluctuate across economic changes and valuation.
Dividing your property systematically and legal minimizes the chances of conflicts. In as much as possible, you need to be fair and objective in allocating your properties to your heirs. You may need to set a meeting among family members and set expectations in advance. These meetings will prepare your family and open their minds to future responsibilities. You may also need specific messages and reasons to justify your actions behind your will.