Whether you Know it or Not, You Need an Estate Plan

When most people hear the phrase “estate plan,” they assume that it is something that only wealthy people need. That is not the case. An estate plan lays out your wishes in the event you die or become incapacitated, often controlling what happens with your assets, minor children, and medical care, amongst other things. So if you have any interest in seeing that these matters are handled properly and in accordance with your wishes, you need an estate plan.

These are the key things to consider when preparing your estate plan:

Creating a Will

When it comes to estate planning, if your intentions aren’t in writing, they don’t exist. That is why creating a will is the first step in creating a proper estate plan. The next step is making sure that it is consistently updated. If you’re a parent, account for your children, and identify who should become their guardian if you die before they become adults. If you’re married or divorced, account for your marital status. If your financial situation has changed—for the better or worse—account for that change. Also, if you want any non-relatives to receive property or gifts, ensure that is reflected, as well.

Establishing a Health Care Directive

Many of us have strong opinions as to what we do and don’t want done in the event we require extensive medical intervention to remain alive. Planning for such unfortunate possibilities and end of life care is also a crucial aspect of an estate plan. As we have seen in cases such as with Terri Schiavo, when these decisions are left up to loved ones, it can become extremely emotional and complicated—don’t burden them with that. Think about these issues now, discuss them with your loved ones, and have your wishes documented.

Creating Payable upon Death Financial Accounts

A simple way to streamline the handling of your monetary assets is naming a specific, yet trusted, beneficiary to all of your financial accounts. Most bank accounts, retirement accounts, stock accounts, etc. can be converted to “payable upon death accounts” simply by filing a form with the institution that lists a specific beneficiary. This small step allows for these accounts to skip any probate process and the named beneficiary has immediate access to these funds upon your death.

Store Your Documents and Online Account Information

Last but not least, maintain a file. All of your financial records, bank records, life insurance policies, and other important documentation should be stored in one place where your executor (or other trusted person) can find and access them. Additionally, everyone with online accounts should also keep a list of all accounts—bank accounts, credit card accounts, email accounts, and social media accounts—and the username(s) and password(s) for those accounts, so they can be effectively managed upon your death.

Finding an Estate Attorney

Isn’t it time you got an estate plan in place? Take a few minutes, post a short summary of your estate planning needs, and let estate planning attorneys in your area come to you at www.legalserviceslink.com!

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Posted - 11/23/2015