9 Steps For Preparing Your Estate Plan

9 Steps For Preparing Your Estate Plan

No one likes to think about, or much less talk about death. However, everyone will die one day, and it can only help to be prepared.

Planning for your death may seem uncomfortable, but a little bit of work now can greatly help your loved ones after you’re gone. Taking care of administrative issues around death now will save your loved ones a lot of stress and grief, and will also help make sure your wishes are followed.

While its important to have an estate planner assist you with many aspects of your estate plan, there are 9 steps you can take right now to get stared preparing your estate plan:

  • Have a Conversation – Have an open conversation with your family about death. Make sure everyone gets to say his or her end of life wishes. If you need more assistance with these kinds of conversations, check out the book The Other Talk by Tim Prosch.
  • Read Up On Laws – Every state has different inheritance laws, so take the time to read up on your state’s laws to make sure your wishes are legal and easy to be met. Also, a basic understanding of how property and assets pass from person to person in your state can only help you when you’re writing your will and planning your estate. Your estate-planning attorney can shed more light if necessary.
  • Hire An Attorney – On that note, be sure you hire an estate-planning attorney. Not any old attorney will do, as he or she needs to be qualified to deal with estate, tax planning and probate laws. If you need help finding a qualified and well-recommended estate planning lawyer, visit Superlawyers.com.
  • Do Your Due Diligence – When hiring an estate planning attorney, be sure to have a consultation to determine if he or she is a good match for your needs. Come to your meeting prepared with questions like how fees are charged. You should also be prepared to answer questions about your property and assets as well as end of life preferences.
  • Update Beneficiaries – Almost every retirement or end of life payment plan, from annuities and life insurance to IRAs and 401Ks, have named beneficiaries. You need to make sure your beneficiaries are updated. If you make changes, be sure to request a copy of the change and file it with your other estate planning documents.
  • Joint Accounts – Consider creating a joint checking account with your executor to make it easier for him or her to acquire the necessary funds to pay for funeral- related expenses.
  • File Away – Create a secure and organized filing system for all your important documents including birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, and estate planning documents. If you choose to hold them in a safety deposit box, be sure your executor or lawyer knows the key’s location. Also, keep extra copies on file at home.
  • Make a List – Make a list of all passwords for every important account, from electronic files and bank accounts to cell phone accounts and even social media.
  • Have Contingencies – It’s especially important to have contingencies if you are your own investment advisor or are in charge of your real-estate portfolio. Consider carefully who can and will handle your investments and property after your death to make sure they’re not wiped out.

If you have more questions about how to get ready for estate planning, you can read the book When Someone Dies…The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death by Scott Taylor Smith.

How are you prepared your estate plan? Tell us in the comment section below, and be on the look out for more estate planning articles.

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