As difficult as it might be to consider end-of-life circumstances, you can spare your family and loved ones additional distress if you prepare and document your wishes before your death. You already know that you need a will, but there are other details to address to ensure your family’s financial protection. As an estate lawyer from a firm like Yee Law Group, PC can explain, estate planning encompasses the distribution of your assets and belongings, as well as designating people to execute your plans. If you are ready to start this process, learn about the tasks you need to complete.
1. List All of Your Assets and Belongings
Making an inventory of your estate involves listing the things you own and determining their value. One example is your home, and you could estimate its worth by looking at the most recent appraisal. Once you have covered your other tangible assets (car, antique furniture, collections etc.) then you need to look at your intangible assets such as banking, retirement, and investment accounts.
2. Protect Your Family
Purchasing life insurance will help to provide for your family financially upon your death. Also, naming two guardians for your children is recommended in case one of the appointed adults is unable to provide care for them. Clearly state what your goals and desires are for parenting and education to avoid issues in court.
3. Document Your Directives
At this point, you may need to consult with an attorney to finalize your estate planning documents, which could include trusts, a health care declaration or “living will”, and power of attorney. You may consider appointing two people, one to be a medical power of attorney to make health care decisions on your behalf, and the other person to act as your financial power of attorney.
4. Complete Beneficiary Paperwork
Be sure to name beneficiaries by completing all forms linked to your banking, investments, and retirement. You can always update these forms after divorce or separation. Consider adding alternate or contingent beneficiaries as well.
5. Organize All Documents
File and organize all your legal documents to allow easy access for the executor (the person you designate to follow your plans). Here is a list of items you should have in your records:
- Will and trusts
- Insurance policies
- Bank account and investment statements
- Retirement plans
- Real estate deed and mortgage
- Funeral instructions
- Remaining debts
There are digital tools available for writing wills, but other aspects of estate planning can be complicated depending on your situation. To settle your affairs as smoothly as possible, contact a local estate lawyer who can guide you with expert advice.