Blog The Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist

The Ultimate Estate Planning Checklist

Estate planning can be an uncomfortable subject for some people. However, you must have a plan in place to protect your family when you die. You might believe that you’re young, or you don’t have many assets. Even if any of these are true, it’s critical to handle your estate planning and work with someone who tailors the plan to your specific needs.

There are some aspects of estate planning that are universal. These important issues need to be considered by everyone. You don’t want there to be confusion if you pass away or become unable to care for yourself. Check out this estate planning checklist to ensure that you don’t miss any important issues:

A List Of What To Prepare For Your Estate Planning Consultation

Create a List of Assets

You might think this is an easy list. It should include bank accounts, your home, cars, and other real property. However, almost everything you own is an asset. Although the value of an individual item might not be high, when combined with others, it can represent a significant amount of money. 

When creating your list of assets, you need to include things such as furniture, keepsakes, collectibles, artwork, and any other items that you want to go to a specific person. With a list of assets in hand, it’s easier to decide who you want to benefit from them. 

Select Beneficiaries

For most people, selecting beneficiaries is an easy process, and they assign their spouse and children as their beneficiaries. However, you can select specific people to get specific items. 

Bank accounts and some other financial accounts can be assigned through the financial institution so that ownership transfers upon your death without the need to wait for the will. Typically, you’ll hear this referred to as pay-on-death or POD. 

Your assets remain yours even with a POD in place as long as you’re alive. However, this can help free up funds immediately after your death for your heirs. It can cover travel expenses and funeral costs along with providing your beneficiaries the means to pay your bills until the estate is settled. 

Plan for Your Debts

There may be considerable debts at the end of your life beyond a mortgage or credit card bills. If you were ill or injured, there might be extensive medical bills that leave your estate in danger.

Many people carefully select insurance policies that can help cover their debts after death. You might use a combination of homeowner’s policies, long term care insurance, health insurance, auto, and life insurance to help offset your debts. You want your beneficiaries to be able to manage after your death, so don’t ignore your possible debts. 

Common Estate Planning Documents

Last Will and Testament

Whether you’re old, young, rich, or poor, you need a current last will and testament to ensure that the assets you have are dealt with exactly as you want them to be. It isn’t enough to tell your son that he can have a family engagement ring after your death. Your will makes it clear how you want your property divided.

The will can also serve as a blueprint for whom you want to take guardianship of your minor children. You can even make arrangements for your pets by assigning a caregiver and designating funds for their future care. In your will, you’ll designate an executor who’s responsible for ensuring your wishes are met. 

Statement of Desires

A Statement of Desires isn’t a legally binding document like a will is. However, it can provide clear guidance to the executor of your estate. You need to create a road map to your important accounts, including bank accounts, insurance policies, credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and more. 

If you handle most of these accounts online, then you need to include usernames and passwords. It’s also a good idea to include the contact information for family and close friends. This is essential information that the executor of your estate needs to do their job.

Our Estate Planning Team Can Help

Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney ensures that your estate plan accomplishes what you want to have in place in the event you’re incapacitated or unable to make decisions around your health care, or when you pass away

The team at Schulz Stephenson Law is here and ready to help you evaluate your options and build an estate plan that will help protect your loved ones after your death. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation!

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