The word estate refers to the whole of an individual’s interest in a set of property including land and other assets, such as stocks and retirement accounts.
Every person has an estate to some extent, though some are larger and more valuable than others. When a person dies, this property must get divided amongst their heirs, or to some other pre-designated party.
Dying without an estate plan can be a troubling circumstance for your surviving loved ones. This is why now is the time you should concern yourself with estate planning.
Keep your family protected after you leave this world. Read this estate planning checklist to get yourself started.
Take a Survey of Your Assets
The first thing you should do is think about the assets you have. Before you can draft a will, you will need to know what to include.
The first obvious asset you should consider will be your home if you own one. You may also consider any cars, boats, art, and jewelry.
Do not forget any intangible assets, such as retirement accounts, stocks, and savings accounts. Feel free to reach out to us to figure out where to get started on your asset inventory.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you have a sizeable estate, you will want to consult an estate planning attorney. They will be able to advise you on the best course of action.
An attorney will also make sure your estate plan covers all possible bases.
Make a Will
Your last will and testament may be the most important document in your estate planning efforts.
It gives you the power to decide how to divide your assets following your death. It also allows you to decide what happens to your minor children if something were to happen to you, even if you were to live but be incapacitated.
In your will, you will name an executor who carries out your affairs as defined in your will.
Consider a Trust
A trust can have several benefits in your estate planning efforts. You can transfer some or all your assets into a trust, which goes to the control of a trustee.
The trustee must manage the assets according to your wishes.
If you have a large estate, a trust can protect your estate from taxes following your death.
The beneficiary named on an account will receive the account upon your death. Take the time to review and update your beneficiary designations.
Plan for Debts
Some people die with debts left behind. Consider any outstanding debts you might have upon your death.
How will your estate pay for them?
Some of these debts may fall to your insurance plans, including home, auto, and life insurance.
Consider how your family will cover your funeral expenses.
Your Estate Planning Checklist
There is no doubt one day you will move on from this life. There is nothing to be afraid of, but you should prepare your estate for the next step.
This estate planning checklist should give you an idea about where to start. Some estates may require more intensive planning than others.
Be sure to speak with an experienced attorney. To find out how we at Indigo Family Law can help, click here.