As you travel on the journey of life, you’ll inevitably build up an estate that one day your loved ones will inherit. These details are all handled in your estate plan. An estate plan acts like a roadmap for your heirs by providing directions on how to settle your financial and personal affairs while ensuring your wishes are being honored. Taking the time to educate yourself about the estate planning process now can mean the difference between clarity and confusion later. Below is a checklist of the steps you should take to ensure that your estate plan is organized and up to date.
Estate Planning Checklist
___Create A Will: A will lets you dictate who you want to receive your assets, possessions, and properties, and allows you to name guardians for your children.
___Make a List of Your Current Assets and Debts: Provide an easy reference for your surviving family members with a list that shows all banking, retirement, and investment accounts with their numbers, locations, and values. Include debt from credit cards or loans.
___Review Account Ownership: Review who is listed on your property deeds and vehicle ownership forms. Making a spouse or other family member a co-owner now can help facilitate the transfer of assets more easily.
___Update Beneficiary Designations: Many accounts, such as those for retirement and insurance policies, transfer to the named beneficiaries immediately upon your death. It’s critical that you review these beneficiaries annually to ensure the proper person is inheriting your wealth.
___Establish an Advanced Healthcare Directive and Living Will: An advanced healthcare directive and a living will are legal documents that identify who you authorize to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated, and detail end-of-life treatment preferences.
___Consider Forming a Trust: A trust is a separate legal entity that you create with the help of an attorney in which your property is held and then transferred to the trustees.
___Name a Financial Power of Attorney: This individual is someone you name to act on your behalf to make financial decisions should you be unable to do so.
___Make a Copy of Important Documents: Make copies of your will, trust, real estate deeds, insurance policies, investment accounts, and other legal documents and keep them in a safe place. It’s important for others, such as your spouse or executor of your estate, to know where these documents are stored.
___Communicate Your Plan with Your Loved Ones: Lastly, let your heirs know about your wishes for your final arrangements, including any charitable donations you’d like made.
Estate planning is a complex process with many factors to consider. Contact the office with any questions you may have or to begin mapping out your own estate plan today.