If “Estate Planning” didn’t make your list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2019, it’s not too late to add it! Making a commitment to get your estate planning documents in place this year, or to update existing documents, can give you — and your loved ones — valuable peace of mind.
Don’t worry if you’re not sure what types of estate planning documents or strategies you should make a priority. We’ve developed this handy checklist to help you start the process:
1. Get a Will or Trust
In most cases, a Will or Trust forms the backbone of an estate plan. Wills and Trusts identify who you want in charge of the process of winding down your affairs, and how assets passing through your estate or through the Will or Trust should be divided and distributed.
2. Review and Update Beneficiary Designations
Many people are unaware that their Wills or Trusts do not automatically control all of their assets. Make sure your beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts, investment accounts, annuities, and other assets are set up to pass those assets according to your wishes. Your estate planning attorney can help you tie beneficiary designations into the rest of your estate plan.
3. Create Advance Directives
If you don’t have a power of attorney for financial transactions and a health care directive for medical decisions, consider creating both. Where your Will and Trust take over after your death, these other documents can be critically important during periods of lifetime incapacity.
4. Tell Someone About Your Estate Plan
Finally, make sure your loved ones know you’ve completed your estate planning, and know where they can find your documents if they need them because of your incapacity or death. We suggest sending electronic copies of your documents to the persons who are named in them as an agent, executor, or successor trustee.
When you are ready to start or revise your estate plan, we can help! To request a consultation or lean more, contact us today!