It’s never too early to start estate planning. Having a plan in place at an early age is always preferable to finding you don’t have one when you really need it. If you’re a little lost on what you should be doing first start with these few steps:
Make a Comprehensive List of All Finances
One of your first steps to estate planning will be to sit down and figure out exactly what it is that you have. Make a list of everything major that you own, including obscure things which you might not think of but that have value, such as a stamp collection or antique furniture. Next make a list of what funds you have, whether it be savings, retirement funds, or investments. Finally make sure you note what debts you currently have as well, so you know the exact value of your assets and how much money you truly have.
Make a Plan for Your Inheritance
Deciding who gets what is a tough but important part to your estate planning. Of course, you will want to make sure that your assets and money will go to exactly who you hope to receive it. It’s also important to make note of how and when you want those people to receive things. If you’re leaving a large sum of money to a minor you might want to arrange circumstances where they cannot access that money until a reasonable age. Or if you are intending to leave money specifically for someone’s education look into a 529 plan which you could start using now.
Understand what passes through Probate
Generally, any investment account, life insurance or savings and checking accounts may pass directly to your beneficiaries by listing them as such on the accounts. If you do not list a beneficiary on your accounts, these accounts will be subject to the probate process. Furthermore, other items like your house, vehicles and personal items are passed through your state and county of residence through probate court. Having a Will ensures these items are passed to your intended heirs through the probate process. However, if you would like to avoid probate and bequeath items to your beneficiaries directly, it may be recommended to consider a trust such as a revocable trust.
Consider Who Should Be Making Important Decisions for You
Should the time come where you cannot make decisions for yourself regarding your own healthcare you will want to know that the right person is making them for you. Also consider who you would want to be in control of your finances or legal matters and create a power of attorney that can be as limited as you want it to be. These are good ways to maintain some sort of control over what happens to you.
Don’t Forget the Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is important if you want to be sure you’ve completed all the paperwork correctly and you haven’t left room for any small mistakes. If your estate is quite sizable checking everything over with a lawyer will ensure your wishes will be fulfilled exactly how you imagine.
These are just the basics to get you started with planning what will happen to your estate after your passing. Be sure to remember to check in on these plans frequently as your circumstances and relationships will probably change which could lead to you needing to make updates.
Signature Services Program
Plotkin Financial Advisors’ (PFA) Signature Services program offers complimentary and comprehensive income tax and estate planning services to eligible clients. Our team can help coordinate annual income tax preparation and address estate planning needs. We understand that premium financial planning requires ongoing monitoring of our clients’ entire financial situation. PFA’s Signature Services complements our holistic financial planning approach. Truly unique, this service speaks to our commitment to meeting the financial planning needs of our clientele. If you would like to learn more about our Signature Services and Plotkin Financial Advisors, LLC, please feel free to contact us today!
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