- Determine your needs in an Estate Plan
The first step is to determine what you need to address within an estate plan. This can be done by assessing your current family situation and financial status.
- Find and hire a qualified Estate Planning Attorney
Estate planning is absolutely one area that you should not try to do it yourself. You and your family would best be served by hiring a qualified estate planning attorney. Your attorney should be able to offer you a variety of options depending on the size of your estate, your family situation and what you want to do with your money. If you are a same-sex couple, find an attorney who is experienced in both estate planning and the local and federal laws concerning same-sex couples.
- Create your Estate Plan
Work with your attorney to create and build your estate plan. Depending on your current family and financial situations, the estate plan will include several essential estate planning documents and may address the funding of a Trust.
- Maintain and Update Your Estate Plan
Once your estate plan is documented and executed (signed and witnessed), you should review it each year or so to determine if it still meets your estate planning needs and goals or requires updates and changes. In addition, state and federal laws that affect estate planning change frequently, so it is a good idea to work with your Attorney to insure that your estate plan will work when needed.
The University of Arkansas - Cooperative Extension Service has several documents you can download to assist with Estate Planning.
- Estate Planning Defined - FSFCS_56
- Getting Started on an Estate Plan - FSFCS_57
- Helping Others Arrange Their Finances Series: Informal Arrangements - FSHEC_94
- Legal Language for Property Owners - FSFCS_58
- Ownership of Property - FSHEC 40
- What is a Will? - FSFCS_47
Also, the Arkansas Legal Services Partnership website has a section on Wills & Estates Law Resource Center and Legal Library that provides an overview of several areas of the law that affect you and your family.