Estate Planning Checklist

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Estate Planning Checklist: Easy Stress-Free Steps For Getting Organized

An estate plan can be designed to take care of your family if something happens to you. With a carefully drafted set of estate plan documents, you can ensure that your wishes are fulfilled after your passing or incapacitation. Let’s look closer at a helpful estate planning checklist that can walk you through the process.

 What is an estate plan?

An estate plan is a way to plan for who will receive any assets or deal with your responsibilities after you pass or can no longer manage your own affairs. At the most basic level, your estate plan will designate beneficiaries of your assets. If you delve more deeply into this plan, you can look for ways to pass on your assets to minimize the tax burden for your heirs.

Why is an estate plan important?

You might be tempted to put off this task when you consider drafting estate plan documents. After all, thinking about your family’s life after you are gone can be uncomfortable. But without an estate plan in place, you could leave your family in a difficult financial situation. Estates without a clear plan can often be pulled into the state probate process which allows the courts to decide how your assets are distributed. The probate process can freeze your assets while the case makes its way through the court. Even without the lengthy probate process, leaving your heirs without a plan can be an emotional burden for them. Instead of focusing on the grieving process, they’ll be stuck attempting to sort out your assets among themselves. It is easy to see how that could lead to issues.

Estate planning checklist

Now that the importance of estate planning has been explained let’s walk through an estate planning checklist.

 1. Think about the legacy you want to leave

Estate planning can be an emotional process. Before you start the paperwork, take some time to get more comfortable with the idea. Remember, the goal is to protect your family’s future. With that in mind, you can start moving forward. Thinking about the legacy you want to leave behind is a good place to start. Once you know where you want your assets to go, you can navigate the estate planning checklist with less confusion.

 2. Take stock of the assets you have

Taking an inventory of 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 your assets are. You can make a list of your tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets, aka physical assets such as your home, car, collectibles, and more. Intangible assets include less obvious things such as your checking account, life insurance policy, retirement plans, business interests, etc.

 3. Anticipate what your family will need

Without you to provide for your family, your family’s finances could look very different. Consider whether or not your current assets would cover their financial needs. You might find a gap between your family’s needs and current assets. If you run into that issue, then consider a life insurance policy. You can obtain a life insurance policy that would pay out a death benefit to your family in the worst-case scenario.  If you are considering life insurance, then check out this review.

 4. Consider the needs of your children

Beyond your family’s financial needs, you’ll need to make additional plans for young children. Importantly, you should name a guardian. Take the time to discuss your intentions with the named guardian. You should also draft a document that outlines any specifics you want your child’s guardian to include in their lives.

5. Update your beneficiaries

Updating your beneficiaries is an easy step in your estate planning checklist. But many overlook this. Take the time to check the details of all of your retirement accounts, insurance policies, and bank accounts. You’ll see a place to designate a beneficiary. Make sure to include the right beneficiary. When it comes to your physical belongings, make a specific list of who will receive your things. The more specific you can be, the better.

Don’t forget to update your beneficiaries regularly as you move through life. You should update your beneficiaries to reflect your current situation in life. For example, updating your beneficiaries after a divorce should be done quickly to ensure that your assets end up where you want them to be.

6. Talk to an attorney

If you have a complicated financial or family situation, then an attorney can help you make your wishes clear through proper documentation. Don’t be afraid to discuss your situation with an estate planning attorney. They can offer clear guidance for your unique situation.

Get help

If you would like to learn more about estate planning, any of our estate planning attorneys would be happy to assist you.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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