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Estate Planning Checklist

May 21, 2021

An estate plan is not just for wealthy celebrities. An estate plan is the best way to provide for your loved ones after your death. It ensures that your property and assets get distributed according to your wishes and it also helps your family make important decisions. An estate plan is more than a will. It includes other essential items that make things easier for your loved ones. An estate plan attorney utilizes your unique information to create an estate plan that is ideal for your situation. Here is a checklist to prepare for the creation of your estate plan.

Inventory Your Assets

It is necessary to inventory your assets and list them, along with their approximate values. Take some time to include everything you own including vehicles, property, artwork, furniture, collectibles, and more. Consider the approximate value of each item. Begin to determine how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries.

Make a List of Bank Accounts and Debts

List all your bank accounts as well as access details. You may want to add a trusted loved one to your accounts so they can handle your affairs on your behalf. Include critical details on the list such as the name of the bank, the name on the account, the account number, and debit card information and passwords. List all your credit cards, loans, mortgages, student loans, and any other outstanding debts along with detailed information such as loan numbers, access data, and the amount you owe.

List Your Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts

When you pass away, your loved ones will need to claim your insurance policies and any other accounts that you own. The best way to ensure they have the information they need is to make a list of your life insurance and retirement accounts with details such as the names of the providers, account numbers, and contact information. Keep in mind you could have old retirement accounts that you forgot about.

Draft a Will

A will is a written document that provides details regarding the distribution of your assets, the payment of debts, and other critical functions. You will designate beneficiaries to receive your property. If you die without a will your property will be distributed according to state laws and the people you love may not receive the assets you intended.

Choose an Executor

An executor or administrator is a person you choose to handle your affairs after your death. This person will act on behalf of your estate to gather information, pay bills, and more. Choose a person you trust and provide him or her with the details of your estate along with your wishes for how to handle your important matters after you are gone.

Pick Guardians for Minor Children

If you have young children, you need to make sure that you designate a guardian in the event of your death. You do not want to leave your children as orphans and possibly have them go into foster care. You should make arrangements for a family member or close friend to take custody of your children. Discuss the details with the guardian ahead of time so they agree to the commitment.

Establish Trusts

A trust is a way to put aside money for a specific person or persons. Trusts can have some benefits, particularly when it comes to paying estate taxes. There are different types of trusts, so it is helpful to learn more about them and how they can be beneficial in your particular situation. Trusts can be complex, so it is helpful to discuss them with a qualified attorney or financial consultant.

Determine the Need for a Living Will and Power of Attorney

A living will, also called a healthcare directive, is a document that provides instructions for medical care if you are incapacitated such as due to a serious illness. The living will is a good option because it gives your physician and loved ones details about your wishes when you are not able to provide them. Power of attorney allows someone else to take over your affairs if you are incapacitated.

Seek Legal Guidance

Keep in mind that the best estate plans are those that ensure their legality. The last thing you want to happen is to make things more difficult for your survivors. Gather important information and seek help from a reputable attorney. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. online or by phone at (608)784-8310 for all your estate planning needs.

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