Estate planning is a subject that many people avoid. It requires thinking about their mortality, which is something that none of us like to acknowledge. But the truth is that none of us are going to live forever. And so, you have a choice: put an organized and strategic estate plan together or simply sit back and let things happen. Opting for the latter could result in an unnecessary amount of your money going to court and lawyer fees instead of your beneficiaries. And the end result might mean that the people who inherit your assets are not the same people you would have intended had you thought things through. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan in place that will clearly express your wishes.
Here are 3 tips to help you get started with your estate plan.
You need to know exactly what your assets are before you can start planning. Take a complete inventory of real estate and business holdings, investments, insurance policies, retirement savings, and similar interests. Know the cash value of all assets as well as the names of any beneficiaries you have already designated.
Every estate plan involves naming various fiduciaries, e.g. guardian for minor children, agent under Power of Attorney or Health Care Surrogate, Executor/Personal Representative, etc. Think about whom you would feel comfortable naming. Consider discussing your decisions with people that you will name before finalizing your plan.
Plan to re-evaluate your estate plan from time to time, especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, to make sure that the plan will still work as you like. In particular, don’t overlook significant assets like your IRA or life insurance policy. For example, leaving your former spouse’s name on a policy can create serious problems, especially if you remarried in the interim, but it happens all the time.
If you’d like some assistance creating a plan for the future of your estate, we can help. Please contact us today to learn more!