You want to be proactive when it comes to estate planning. Through the years, you have heard too many stories about people who procrastinated or others who just did not have an estate plan when they died.
Being prepared and having the right mindset represent the first step toward creating an estate plan. Obviously, there are a few more matters to address in confidently setting you on your way.
Make an inventory and contact an attorney
Having an estate plan is something that every adult should consider. Remember, if you do not have a will, the state decides what happens with your assets.
When beginning the estate planning journey, here are some initial steps to take:
- Create an asset inventory: This may include your home or condo, cabin, life insurance, mutual funds, savings accounts, retirement plans, vehicles, personal property such as clothing, furniture and antiques. Do not forget that debts are part of an estate, too.
- Create and review your list of beneficiaries: By reviewing this list and your asset list, you may better determine the needs of your beneficiaries. Doing so may help you determine what assets and how much you would like to leave them.
- Research attorney options and contact some: Preliminary discussions with estate planning attorneys may help you pare down the list of whom you want to work with. An attorney will provide guidance and insight, explain the options and help organize your estate plan.
- Leave a letter: Since not everything belongs in a will, write a letter that includes additional instructions and leave it with a trusted person or in a safe deposit box. The letter may include instructions on funeral arrangements and directions on which specific items to leave certain beneficiaries.
These steps will help in your preparation for an estate plan. Gaining peace of mind represents an added benefit.
Controlling what happens to your assets
It is not easy to think about your mortality. But death and possible incapacitation is a part of life. In creating an estate plan, you understand that you maintain control as to what happens with your assets and who will get them. Go in that direction one step at a time.