Do you have a new year’s resolution to handle estate planning, such as update your will or set up a trust, but do not know where to start? Let us review a checklist of 5 actions you can take to achieve your goals:
1. Catalog your assets and debts. List valuable items you own. Examples may include real property, such as your home or other land you own, and personal property, such as jewelry, vehicles, art, laptops, equipment. It can include intangible assets too, such as investment accounts and life insurance policies. Separately, create a list of your debts, for example, mortgages, auto loans, home equity lines of credit, and other obligations.
2. Select your trusted representative. Estate planning often requires several representatives, such as a personal representative to follow your instructions about your assets after you pass away. An estate attorney can offer you guidance in selecting these representatives as they can play an important role in the probate process and other circumstances.
3. Complete your documents. In addition to a last will and testament, a central part of many estate plans, you may also want to create a trust or trusts. Work with your estate planning attorney to develop the documents that work best for you and your needs.
4. Share the documents. First, you can share your lists of assets and debts with trusted loved ones, such as the person who you expect to be your personal representative or your spouse. It helps to include account numbers, agreements, and contact information for each item listed. Next, give copies of your completed documents with your attorney and personal representative.
5. Review accounts and documents. Review retirement accounts, insurance policies, and memberships. The listed beneficiaries take precedence over direction given in a will or trust, so update beneficiary information regularly. You should also review the documents you created at least once every two years and after major life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child in the family.
For more assistance developing a strong estate plan, our office is here to help. Please reach out to us today to schedule a time to meet.