Before you begin Estate Planning, take a look at the following to be prepared to take the next steps. Many say that Estate Planning is one of the greatest gifts they could give their loved ones.
As you begin this process, you’ll quickly notice that organizing and completing these items doesn’t only feel good to get them checked off your to-do list, but also feels great to know that you have plans arranged for those you hold closest in life.
If you have already begun your Estate Planning journey, use this guide to make sure you’re not missing any key topics.
Take note of what you have, then take the proper steps to best protect it. Make sure to list the value of your home, other properties, deeds etc. Organize together your bank account details. List liabilities, mortgage, credit cards, as well as Retirement plans, 401(K), IRAs etc. Take photos of all of your valuables. List your insurance policies, noting cash values and death benefits. Note where your safety deposit box is located and it’s contents. It might be beneficial for you to consider adding a trusted family member to your safety deposit box, in case they may need to access it for you.
Contact a trusted Estate Planning Attorney. They can help you create or update a will, make health care directives (living will, power of attorney: medical and durable) choose beneficiaries for your inheritance, and set up a trust (beneficiaries and successor trustee).
When reaching out to possible Estate Planning Attorneys, be sure to ask up front for their costs and billable hours on each of these items. It’s never fun to just assume pricing only to find out later that their costs were actually higher than you imagined.
Things to Consider
It may be beneficial for you to have Long Term Care Insurance. When you are considering it, make sure to find out exactly what the potential insurance could cover as well as contacting a professional to discuss options. Many financial planners can go over details at no cost.
Before you make too many decisions with an Estate Planning Attorney, it’s important to understand how the court plays into the process. Having a basic but clear understanding of probate will help you with further decisions.
Planning your Funeral
Planning your funeral and choosing if you want to pre-pay funeral expenses are important items in Estate Planning. The main decision that needs to be made is in choosing the disposition of body; burial, cremation, body donation to science, organ donation etc. Based on that choice, you can decide on a final resting place. Meeting with a funeral home or director to discuss details will clear up any confusion and help outline the decisions that need to be made.
One of the lighter, and often times easier, choices in planning your funeral is the planning of a celebration service. A Celebration Service can include choosing music, readings and more. Most time helpful resources and unique services that others have done for other families can be shared with you. Just ask!
Make sure to organize and store your documents, from the lists discussed above, and all files related to Estate Planning with your attorney. In these modern times, it’s very important to not overlook organizing digital files and keeping a list of online accounts and passwords. Your digital assets, which include personal websites, email accounts, social media profiles, etc., don’t just disappear after death. If you don’t want the “online” you to live on forever, you should create a plan to secure your digital legacy.
Plan to check in on your Estate Planning every 5 years or so. It’s important to remember to adjust your plans when necessary, especially if there’s a birth, death, marriage or divorce in your family.
Article Submitted by: Tim Dinan, owner, Cook Family Funeral Home
163 Wyatt Way NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110