Estate Planning Basics

Howard, Lewis & Petersen is a full service law firm in Provo. We can help you with all of your legal needs from personal injury and criminal law to divorce and estate planning. We are lucky in our practice to be able to educate our readers about law topics and issues. Today’s discussion is about the latter—estate planning.


We have provided a checklist to help you take care of your future by making a will, power of attorney, funeral arrangements and more.

  1. Make a will. An experienced attorney can help you create a will to state who you want to inherit your property and name a guardian for your minor children and their inheritances.
  2. Think about trusts. Trusts work to allow your property to pass directly to inheritors without going through the long and expensive process of probate.
  3. Establish health care directives. If you ever become unable to care for yourself, health care directives can protect your wishes by naming an authority to make health care choices for you if you cannot for yourself.
  4. Create a financial power of attorney. Like health care directives, a financial power of attorney gives someone you trust the power to handle your finances should you become incapacitated.
  5. Protect your children’s property. If your children are still minors when you and the other parent pass away, you need an adult you can trust to manage any money or property you leave to your children. This can be the same person you name as their guardian.
  6. File beneficiary forms. As another avenue to skip the probate process, name “payable on death” beneficiaries to all of your bank accounts, retirement plans, stocks, and bonds.
  7. Research life insurance. If you have young children or you own a house, you may owe significant debts or estate when you die, life insurance may provide relief for those payments.
  8. Understand estate taxes. Most estates won’t owe federal taxes, but make sure you find out if yours does so that you can appropriately plan for the expense to the estate.
  9. Plan for funeral expenses. Rather than setting up an expensive and unreliable prepayment plan, you can open a payable-on-death savings account to set aside money for final expenses.
  10. Make final arrangements. Make sure your family knows your wishes and will respect them regarding organ and body donation, burial, or cremation.
  11. Protect your business. If you are the sole owner of a business, you should have a succession or buyout agreements. Our business attorneys can help you with this.
  12. Store your documents. Your attorney-in-fact and/or your executor may need access to any the above documents after you die; be sure to store originals and copies in a safe place they can find.


At the Utah law firm of Howard, Lewis & Petersen our experienced attorneys are standing by to help you start protecting yours and your family’s future. Click here or call us today at (801) 373-6345.

Posted March 31st, 2014