As you usher in the new year, it’s the perfect time to set personal resolutions that consider securing your family’s future. Estate planning may sound complex, and sometimes it can be.
However, with the right guidance, it can be straightforward. If you have not met with an estate planning attorney yet, here is a beginner-friendly checklist to kickstart your journey into this crucial aspect of financial planning.
List your assets
Before you can decide what to do with what you have, you must be certain of what you have. Begin by making a list of your assets, including real estate, investments, bank accounts, personal property, retirement accounts, and 401Ks or IRAs.
Make a list of your beneficiaries
Choose who you want to pass your assets onto. Whether it is your children, grandchildren, or a combination of several people, define your beneficiaries to avoid confusion and disputes later on. If you have any charitable organizations you would like to include as beneficiaries, make sure you include them on your list.
Create a will
A last will and testament is a foundational document that outlines how you will distribute your assets after you die. If you have minor children, you can also appoint guardians for them in your will.
Establish trusts for specific goals
Whether it is to protect a special-needs child, minimize taxes, or protect assets from public eyes, work with an estate planning attorney to establish an appropriate trust to fit your individual needs and ensure that you have the correct type of trust for your goals.
Designate a power of attorney
Ensure you appoint an individual to manage your financial affairs and make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so. These documents, which include healthcare directives and instructions, ensure that someone you trust will take charge if you become incapacitated.
Think of long-term care
What are your end-of-life wishes? Is there a particular place you would like to live in or a family member you would like to move in with when you can no longer live independently? This is the perfect time to make those decisions, speak with everyone involved and put everything down on paper.
Beginning the estate planning journey can seem like a daunting task, but it truly is not. Taking these steps will get you started in planning for your future care, the future of your family, and give you peace of mind knowing you are doing what you must do to protect your legacy and the ones you hold dear. Cheers to a prosperous and well-planned year ahead!