Estate planning can seem like a daunting task, but here are 5 key steps you can take to get yourself started.
Take inventory of your belongings: both tangible and intangible objects – tangible objects include your home(s), car(s), jewelry and clothing, art, etc. – intangible objects include retirement plans, stock, savings and checking accounts, etc.
Choosing a trustee: your trustee is an appointed individual who will ensure that your wishes are upheld; it is crucial that this person fully understands the responsibilities and obligations they are assuming in agreeing to maintain and enforce your expressed wishes.
Choosing your beneficiaries: your beneficiaries can be people, entities, or organizations; they will be the recipients of your assets when you pass away. When choosing your beneficiaries, it can be helpful to think about the people who depend on you – especially those for whom you are financially responsible. Whether they are your immediate or extended family, your friends, or your favorite charity, choosing and naming your beneficiaries makes it clear where you want your assets to go.
Establish your goals: what do you and your family need? A living trust will allow you to designate where and to whom each portion of your estate (your inventory) will go, and if you become incapable of making those decisions down the road, a trustee can be appointed to ensure your wishes are upheld. An effective estate plan will also include documentation that will allow you to express your wishes for your medical care in the event that you become ill and are unable to express your desires.
Decide whether or not you need professional assistance: there are many online resources that can assist you, not only in the research aspect of estate planning, but also with the actual documentation portion of estate planning. Consider consulting an estate planning attorney when you have doubts or questions about which path you should take.
If you have any questions regarding estate planning, please contact our office at any time.