After a mild bout of procrastination, you are eager to develop an estate plan that will protect your assets and protect your family. Your initial uncertainty about how to start is gone.
With a little research, a clear line on decision-making along with the advice of trusted confidantes, you are ready to take those initial steps. Implementing those steps not only will provide the blueprint for your estate plan, but also peace of mind to your loved ones, knowing that these are choices you have made.
Asset inventory, choose beneficiaries
When creating an estate plan, please consider these initial steps:
- Make a complete inventory of your assets: The list may be long. Your home and real estate investments are likely among the most valuable. Also include personal property such as cars, boats, furniture, collectibles and clothing. Your investment portfolio should get extra attention and likely consists of mutual funds, stock investments, retirement accounts, bank accounts and life insurance policies.
- Choose your beneficiaries: Carefully review your list and consider lining up the needs of your beneficiaries with your assets. If a beneficiary is in the market to buy a home, consider leaving your house to that person. If another one has young children, consider setting aside money in a trust for their college expenses.
- Include a letter with instructions: This note should cover things that did not appear in your will. It should include details about your funeral arrangements. You also may want to provide instructions regarding the specific items such as heirlooms that you want to give to certain people. Give the letter to a trusted person or place it in a safe deposit box.
- Make a list of prospective estate planning attorneys: Meet with them individually because you want someone who is the right fit. Look for an experienced attorney who provides easy-to-understand explanations, has important insight and gives you a solid comfort level.
- Talk with your family: Tell them about your intentions and answer any questions they may have. You may learn something, too.
These preliminary actions are necessary to ensure that you have the beginnings of a solid estate plan.
Achieving a goal, gaining peace of mind
Congratulations are in order now that you have begun to lay the groundwork for an estate plan. Follow through with these steps as you make important decisions. Not only will you have accomplished an important goal, but you and your beneficiaries also will gain peace of mind.