4 Steps to Plan Your Estate
By Solid Serenity Legal Solutions
People seem to have a pretty hard time making estate plans sometimes. Maybe it’s facing your own mortality. Maybe it’s just being so busy with your day-to-day schedule that it’s hard to find the time. Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
But, estate planning is important for all of us and should be near the top of our “To Do List”, because death is inevitable. And, usually, death is unpredictable.
Coming up with an estate plan while you are still healthy and able can save a lot of pain and headaches for your loved ones when something happens to you. No matter how large or small your estate, having a will to disburse any assets of yours is an important document to have in place. Yet, almost one in five adults do not have a Will because they do not see it as needed. For all estate sizes estate planning is needed, and luckily, it is not a difficult process.
Here are four steps to help you plan your estate.
(1) Take Inventory
The first step to putting together a plan for distributing your estate is to know what you have. Even if your estate is smaller, putting together an inventory will help your beneficiaries when they are working through probate. Take some time to sit down and note all of your assets, and debts, worth one-hundred dollars or more.
(2) Identify Your Beneficiaries
Now that you have figured out the what being distributed, it is time to decide to whom the assets will be distributed. Whether the beneficiary will be family, friends, or charities, having your desires for your estate spelled out will ensure that nothing is misplaced or ends up somewhere you don’t want it to be. It will also provide clarity to your heirs as they try to distribute the estate.
(3) Draft a Plan
This could be the most important part of the process as the other steps are not legally binding documents. The plan itself is what will be used to determine the documents you will need for your estate. Wills and/or trusts and other estate planning documents should contain how the assets should be distributed and who should receive them, but it can also include other instructions such as who should take care of any children or pets left and who will help manage your assets if you are not capable. Having an estate plan in place prevents the state from determining for you how your assets will be distributed.
Establishing and maintaining communication with people who are, or could have reason to believe they are, chosen executors or heirs of your assets prevents conflict in the event that something happens to you. Making sure everyone is on the same page now can prevent lengthy, expensive legal battles in the future.
It can be uncomfortable to think about what will happen to your friends and family when you die, but the cost of a few minutes of feeling uncomfortable are far outweighed by the benefits afforded by having your estate planning handled when something does happen to you.