What Is My Estate?

Estate Planning Lawyers

What Is Included in My Estate?

Estate is a legal term used to describe your net worth. On one side of the equation, your estate is everything you own. It can include cash in the bank, real estate such as your primary residence and rental properties, your cars, and any other assets you possess. Your estate may also include any intellectual property you own, such as copyrighted material or patents. The concept of an estate may even include your social media presence.

On the other side of the equation, your estate stands good for anything you owe. For example, your estate must pay your mortgage and any other debts you owe before your heirs can inherit anything you leave behind upon your death. Smaller debts, such as a car loan, are also part of the estate.

What Is an Estate Plan?

You don’t want to leave your family to sort out your affairs when you die, so it’s essential to leave behind a plan that describes the assets, liabilities, and where to find all of the relevant information. As an estate planning lawyer in Memphis, TN like one from Patterson Bray, can explain, an estate plan is a comprehensive document that describes how you want your estate to be distributed once all the debts are paid. Such a plan includes strategies for who will run your company if you are a business owner and a method of handling any money you want to leave for minor children, for example. Many estate plans also include instructions for how you want healthcare decisions dealt with and by whom so that your family doesn’t have to guess at your wishes or make painful decisions on their own.

What Are the Parts of an Estate Plan?

While estate plans vary depending on your situation, here are a few of the most commonly included components.

  • A will describing who inherits what, who serves as the executor, and who you want to raise your minor children (though this is subject to approval by the family court)
  • A living will setting forth your wishes if you aren’t able to make your own healthcare decisions
  • Powers of attorney for healthcare and financial matters giving decision-making authority to another person if you can’t make decisions for yourself

Where Can I Get Help With My Estate Plan?

Estate planning laws and rules vary widely by state, so you should seek help from a competent attorney who understands your local statutes. While some people try to do their own estate planning, this is very risky. You don’t want to make a simple mistake that costs your family thousands of dollars in their time of grief.