A thoughtful estate plan is one of the most important things that you can do to protect your loved ones. We are sensitive to the fact that you may be motivated because you recently experienced the death of a friend or family member. If you have experienced the frustration and expense of probate, you’ll understand why estate planning is so important.
Who can benefit from an estate plan?
- Blended families
- Adoptive parents
- Parents of minor children who need to name guardians
- Parents who fear their children won’t manage their inheritance properly
- Anyone who wants to reduce estate taxes
- Individuals who want to maintain privacy over their financial affairs
- Those who want to spell out their health wishes
Preparing your estate is probably the most important way to show your love for your family. Many families and friendships have been destroyed after a person dies because the deceased did not make his or her intentions clear. We have prepared the following list to assist you while you consider the importance of an estate plan.
1. A will allows you to state what will happen to your money and other possessions when you die.
2. A living will states what medical procedures you do and do not want to take place should you become unable to state your wishes yourself.
3. A durable power of attorney gives another person the power to make financial and other decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
4. Have you decided your final plans, such as burial, mass, cremation, or donations? If you are a U.S. military veteran, you may want military honors.
5. Update the beneficiary information on your life insurance, pension, IRA, 401(k), etc. If you have any questions, seek the advice of an attorney or accountant.
6. Passwords and PINS are great tools for protecting your accounts; however, you should consider sharing this information with someone you trust.
7. Create a binder or file that contains your bank accounts, investment accounts, insurance policies, annuity statements, and other financial documents.
8. List all organizations where you are a member or a regular contributor.
9. Should you have pets, designate a person who will care for them and perhaps consider a pet trust.
10. Are there special bequests that you wish to make? Do you own firearms and have you considered a gun trust?