Estate planning is all about preparing for the future and making sure that your goals are met. However, good estate planning often takes time.
If you're prepping for a session with your attorney, take a few moments and gather up what you'll need to make the process easier.
Here are the basics:
1. Take stock of your assets.
You probably have more than you realize. You can include:
- Your car or other vehicles
- Your home and real estate
- Your share of a business
- Bank accounts, stocks, CDs and other financial holdings
- 401(k) plans
- Life insurance plans
- Your personal items
- Your collections, memorabilia and art
- Fine jewelry
- Your social media accounts
Even if you only have some of the things on that list, it's a lot! You need to take steps to protect it all — otherwise the state can decide where it goes, and much of it could go to the government.
2. Consider your heirs.
Who do you have in your life that you want to protect once you are gone?
Estate planning can help you set up trusts to benefit those people and avoid taxation. It can also help you identify gaps in your insurance coverage and guide you as you find more.
3. Consider end-of-life issues.
If you become incapacitated, who do you want to handle your money? How about you medical decisions? If you're a parent of a minor child, do you know who should manage your child's care if you can't?
These are all important questions that can help you decide how to handle those issues and who you trust the most to do things the way you would want them to be done. That can guide you as you set up your final directives, like a living will and power of attorney for medical or financial decisions.
Estate planning doesn't have to be complicated. The more you plan ahead, the easier the process ultimately becomes.
Source: NerdWallet, "Estate Planning Basics: A 7-Step Checklist," Kay Bell, accessed May 18, 2018