A Seven-Step Checklist for Your Estate Planning

Estate planning is often a last-minute, burdensome task to address. But with the right steps and resources, it doesn’t have to feel like a chore! We have compiled some information pertaining to making sure your estate is properly planned for in the event of death. You can learn more today about the essential steps to take before you depart from this world.

Following is a seven-step checklist for your estate planning.

  • Create an inventory

A good place to start your estate planning process is to make an inventory of what you own and where it is located. Make a list and keep it updated as needed. Listed items should include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Cash (coins & currency)
  • Cars, boats, and recreational vehicles
  • Account for your family’s needs

After you have an inventory, it’s time to consider your family’s needs and how your estate can help them. If a loved one has special needs, you may want to prepare a special needs trust. You can also create a will to designate your heirs.

  • Establish your directives

After you take inventory and consider the needs of your family, it’s time to decide how your estate will be dispersed after your death. You should establish your directives for distribution. This includes the following:

  • Pay debts and taxes
  • Support children, grandchildren, and spouses if you die without a will
  • Inheritance for special family members (i.e. children with disabilities) and friends who are in need of financial support due to medical conditions or otherwise
  • Review your beneficiaries

Did you know that you can change your will at any time? This means that you can list different beneficiaries or you can remove some people and add others. Even if someone is listed as a beneficiary, they cannot necessarily expect the money to be dispersed to them. For example, there may be a trust created in the will that determines how the money should be distributed.

  • Note your state’s estate tax laws

If you live in a state with an estate tax, you should know how much money your estate will be subject to if you die. You can find out about the state’s laws by contacting your accountant or attorney.

  • Weigh the value of professional help

If you need more help, you should consult a professional estate planning attorney or accountant. They can help you make the most of your estate and determine a value for your estate.

  • Plan to reassess

At some point, you may realize that you need to make changes to your directives. You can simply change or delete beneficiaries, and the will can be revised. Sometimes you will realize that your estate is worth less than when you started your planning. You should revisit your estate plan at these times and evaluate it again.