6 Steps For Estate Planning

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14th Jun 2016

Having an estate plan is essential to meet your financial goals and to provide and protect your loved ones after you have passed.  There are 6 essential steps for setting up your estate plan.

  1. Create an inventory of what you own and what you owe.  Compile a comprehensive list of all your assets and debts.  Make sure to include names and numbers for advisors, institutions, and account numbers.  Keep this information in a secure location.  Provide a copy to your Trustee or Executor of your will.
  2. Develop a contingency plan.  Nobody likes to think of being unable to care for themselves. Plan ahead to protect your income and allow for your family or friends to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated.  In doing so, plan for disability insurance, and have a strategy in place to cover potential care-giving expenses (such as a Medicaid Trust).
  3. Provide for your family.  Identify an individual you trust to serve as a guardian for your children under age 18.  Also, take time to ensure that dependents are specifically addressed if you are leaving assets to a current spouse. It is becoming more and more common for individuals to remarry after divorce or death of a partner. This brings new family members into the picture. If you do not create a clear estate plan, this unfortunately will just add more individuals fighting over your assets after you pass.  Plan ahead to avoid hurt feelings among your family.
  4. Protect your assets.  You have worked hard throughout your life to get where you are and what you have. Don’t give it up.  Maintain your assets for your heirs by placing them into a trust.  Give as much to your heirs as possible and reduce the amount taken by the government at your death.
  5. Document your wishes.  Ensure that your wishes can be carried out by creating the necessary legal documents.  These include at a minimum, an updated will to dispose of your assets, a living will specifying your end of life wishes, power of attorney for health care and financial matters, and updating your list of beneficiaries on your insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc.
  6. Appoint Fiduciaries.  You must designate someone to act on your behalf. If you have a will, you need to appoint an executor. If you have a trust, you need to appoint a trustee.  If you have minor children, you need to appoint a guardian.

Whether you are starting out in life, or if you have accumulated your wealth over a lifetime, an up to date estate plan is absolutely vital to you and your loved ones.  Call us today to set up a consultation to get your estate plan taken care of.