While creating an estate plan can be stressful, it is necessary for a smooth transition for your family. You can make it easier by following our helpful checklist.
You can design an estate plan to take care of your dependents if something happened to you. With a comprehensive estate plan, you can make sure that your wishes are carried out after your demise or incapacitation. Let’s examine a prepared estate planning checklist that will walk you through the process.
What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a method of planning who will get your assets or handle your responsibilities if you become incapacitated, or can no longer handle your own affairs.
Your estate plan will determine your beneficiaries of your assets. If you dig deeper into this plan, you can find new ways to pass your assets on to your heirs (inheritance tax) without reducing the tax burden for them.
Why is an estate plan important?
You may be inclined to put off estate planning tasks as you think about the feelings of those you leave behind. After all, it can be unpleasant to think about your family members’ life after you die. Without a land plan in place, you can endanger your financial security if you leave your family members stranded.
Estates with no clear plan can often be drawn into the state probate procedure, which gives the courts the authority to dictate how your assets are distributed. The probate process could freeze your assets while the case makes its way through the court.
The lack of a plan in place for your heirs could be a heavy burden for them even without the lengthy probate process.
Rather than focusing on the grieving process, they will be forced to sort out your resources among themselves. It is easy to see how that could cause problems.
Finally, an estate plan can ensure that your assets are transferred to your preferred relatives. You probably have an idea in head of who should receive your possessions. Include your wishes in an estate plan in place so that your family won’t have to worry about these matters.
Estate planning checklist
Now that you are aware of the importance of estate planning, let’s walk through a checklist of steps for creating a will.
1. Think about the legacy you want to leave
The first step in estate planning may be emotional. Before you create the paperwork, take time to become familiar with the concept. Remember, the goal is to safeguard your family’s future. To that end, you should begin working.
A great place to begin is to simply think about the legacy you want to leave behind. Once you are aware of where you want to direct your assets, you can use the estate planning checklist with significantly less confusion.
2. Take stock of the assets you have
Identifying what you have is an important step in the estate planning checklist. After all, you can’t create a plan for your assets if you don’t know what you have. You can create a list for your tangible and intangible assets.
Tangible possessions, also known as physical possessions such as your residence, car, collectibles, and other assets. Intangible assets include items such as your wardrobe, bank account, life insurance, retirement plans, business interests, and many other considerations.
Of course, your list of resources will be a unique reflection of your personal finances. Make sure to consider all of your assets when making this list.
3. Anticipate what your family will need
If you were no longer around tomorrow, what would your family need? Your family’s finances could change significantly without you around to provide for them. How could you make sure that your current assets would cover their needs?
A gap between what your family needs and your current capabilities might exist. If that is the case, then you may consider purchasing a life insurance policy.
You can purchase a life insurance plan that pays out a death benefit to your family in the worst case.
4. Consider the needs of your children
Beyond the needs of your family, you must make extra plans for children. The most important task, however, is to name a guardian.
Take the time to discuss your intentions with the assigned caretaker. You should also draft a syllabus that covers any information you want your caretaker to include in your child’s life.
5. Draft directives
An important part of the estate planning checklist is to draft your directives. Directives are legal documents that describe your wishes for a variety of possible scenarios.
A medical power of attorney places the authority to make medical decisions for you in the hands of a trusted individual.
If you have any questions regarding your finances or legal matters, this article provides that information to a nominated agent. Once the agent is designated to you, that person will be able to handle your financial and legal affairs.
A limited power of attorney grants someone limited authority to act on your behalf in certain cases. For example, you could give a limited power of attorney to a trusted individual to handle your house closing procedure. With this feature, you have more control over your personal affairs.
Think about these matters carefully before authorizing this power. When you give this authority to the individual in question, you will have a great deal of control over your finances and your life.
Be sure you are choosing a companion who you can fully trust to safeguard your best interests.
6. Update your beneficiaries
Updating your beneficiaries is a simple step in your estate planning checklist. But many forget this important step.
Verify the details of all of your retirement accounts, insurance companies, and bank accounts. There is a place to designate a beneficiary.
Make a list of who will receive your possessions. Be as specific as possible.
Be sure to update your beneficiaries frequently as you live your life. You should update your beneficiaries to reflect your current condition in life. After a divorce, you should ensure that your belongings are transferred to their proper owners as soon as possible.
7. Talk to an attorney
If you have financially or personally difficult circumstances, an attorney can clarify your intentions through proper documentation.
Don’t be ashamed to discuss your situation with an estate planning lawyer. You can rest assured that you will have clear guidance for your unique situation.
The bottom line: An estate planning checklist is worth it!
Completing an estate planning checklist might not seem like the easiest thing to do, but it will definitely offer advice in the long run. This may help you to secure the future of your family. Work on preparing your estate plan today, as it is extremely important to do so before you are facing an emergency.