You may have put off estate planning in your younger years and have now reached a point in your life where you are starting to think of what legacy you will leave to your family upon your death. You may have adult children or even beloved grandchildren that you want to see inherit your estate. The following are some steps to take once you decide to execute an estate plan.
Step 1: Collect your documents
First, collect any important documents such as deeds, insurance policies, bank account information and retirement account information, and make sure that your adult children or your attorney know where these documents are and can access them. This can save a lot of confusion if you pass away, but your heirs cannot locate the documents needed to wind down your estate.
Step 2: Identify your chosen heirs
Second, sit down and think about who you want to inherit your assets. What assets are in your possession and which people would you like to see them go to? If your chosen heirs or beneficiaries predecease you, who would you like to inherit after them? Knowing who you want to inherit what can make it easier when it comes to executing a will or trust.
Step 3: Plan for incapacitation
Third, it is important to recognize that your good health and competency may not last forever. As you age, it is possible that you may experience a physical or mental decline. It is important to think about who you want to take care of your medical and financial decisions, should you become so physically or mentally incapacitated that you cannot make these decisions yourself. This information is necessary when executing a medical or financial power of attorney.
Step 4: Seek professional help
Finally, seek the advice of a professional. A do-it-yourself estate plan can have mistakes, inconsistencies or defects that will ultimately make it unenforceable when the time comes. An attorney understands what is necessary to make estate planning documents comprehensive and legally enforceable. This can help avoid potential disagreements among heirs and can ensure your wishes are met.