When you talk to financial advisors, an estate planning checklist is one of the first things they bring up. That’s because your assets are one of the most important considerations when creating an estate plan. Lucky for you, it’s not as scary as it sounds. Estate planning is simply a process that helps you leave your assets in a way that meets your needs and wishes, while also reducing potential costs and inconveniences for your loved ones. Estate planning isn’t just about taxes or how much money you have. It’s about making sure the people and organizations you care about most will be taken care of after you are gone. Read on to learn what you should include in your estate planning checklist.
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What is an estate plan?
An estate plan is a blueprint for how you want your assets to be managed and distributed after you die. It includes instructions for your will, any trusts, and other documents you may want to include, such as powers of attorney, healthcare directives, and funeral wishes. An estate plan can help avoid confusion and conflict among your loved ones after you pass away. It can also protect you from taxes and probate costs.
Estate Planning Checklist
You can of course leave everything to whomever you’d like, but there are some important things to consider as you make your estate planning checklist.
Decide who gets what
– What are the heirs’ financial situations? If you leave an inheritance, do they have the ability and resources to manage it responsibly? In some cases, you may want to leave money or other assets to organizations you believe in, such as a charity or religious institution.
– Will you leave everything to one person? Or will you split it among several people? Leaving everything to one person can cause problems in some situations, as some heirs may feel resentment if they aren’t given a fair share.
– Who will take care of your minor children if both parents die? Do you have older loved ones who might need assistance after you pass away? You may want to leave assets to someone who can help those individuals.
Confirm your intentions with a will
You’ve decided who will get what, so now it’s time to decide where your assets go in the second estate planning checklist item. As you make your will, you can select your heirs, decide how to split up your assets, and name guardians for any minor children. If you don’t name an heir, your estate will go to your state government. The cost of probate can be expensive, making up about 7% of the value of your estate in some states. A will bypasses probate and ensures that your assets go directly to the people you would like to receive them.
Estimate the value of your assets
Next, estimate the value of your assets in your estate planning checklist. This includes your savings and investment accounts, real estate, retirement funds, life insurance, and other tangible property. You’ll need this information when it’s time to make your will.
Plan for paying taxes and probate costs
Another item in your estate planning checklist is making sure your loved ones aren’t burdened by taxes or probate costs. Here’s how you can make sure that doesn’t happen:
– Designate beneficiaries for your retirement funds. You can change these beneficiaries at any time.
– Create a tax-effective estate plan. You can leave assets to whomever you’d like without paying a massive estate tax by planning ahead. By adding a living trust to your estate plan, you can place your assets in a trust for your loved ones. This can significantly reduce the amount of taxes you pay.
– Keep your assets out of probate. Assets placed in a living trust are not probated. Instead, the trust is simply managed for your heirs.
Organize your digital assets
This is an important consideration in your estate planning checklist. You may have some digital assets, such as social media accounts, email accounts, and online businesses. You’ll want to make sure those go to the right people after you pass away. If you don’t make arrangements for them, they may end up in cyberspace forever. You can also set up digital trusts to help manage these assets. You can use these trusts to appoint people to help manage your digital assets after you die. A digital trust is an online account that has login information and instructions. You can set up digital trusts for your email accounts, social media accounts, online businesses, and other digital assets.
Create a living trust to manage your property during your lifetime
If you want to leave your assets to a certain person, you can simply name them in your will. However, the will may not be executed for years, which means your loved ones have to wait. If you create a trust during your lifetime, the trust is managed by someone you appoint to act as the trustee. You can change the trust at any time. If you pass away, your trust will be executed immediately, which means your loved ones can access the assets immediately.
When it comes to estate planning, it’s important to plan ahead with an estate planning checklist. There are many things to consider, and it can be overwhelming to try to do everything at once. You don’t want to leave your loved ones with more questions than answers when you pass away. An estate plan can help you make sure your wishes are carried out after you’re gone.
We Can Help
To ensure that your assets go to the right place, contact Lewman Law for a consultation for a simple will, trust, or other estate planning vehicle. We can also help you with putting together your estate planning checklist today. If you’ve been named the executor of an estate and need legal assistance, you can also request a consultation.