Preparing for the future protects your loved ones, so it’s never too early to create an estate plan that outlines your wishes for your assets after you pass. However, it can be challenging to know where to begin such a major undertaking. Although no two people will have the same estate planning goals, there are a few basic steps everyone should take when putting together an estate plan for the first time. Use the following tips to get started.
5 Steps to Take When Estate Planning for the First Time
1. Organize Your Records
When you’re ready to start estate planning, the first thing you should do is get organized. This includes gathering all the personal records you will need to refer to when making decisions about your estate. Get together information on your bank statements, pay stubs, life insurance policy, retirement accounts, and real estate titles. If you haven’t already, it’s also a good time to make a complete list of all your assets.
2. Select People to Serve in Various Roles
Next, you must start thinking about who you want to designate for certain roles within your estate plan, such as a personal representative, guardian for your children, power of attorney, and trustee. Each of these people will play a significant part in making sure your final wishes are carried out and your loved ones are protected, so choose carefully.
3. Draft a Will
Writing a will gives you the opportunity to remain in control of the way your assets are distributed upon your passing. You must name a personal representative to be in charge of administering your estate and the beneficiaries you intend to receive your belongings and money. In a will, you can also appoint a guardian for your children and put together a care plan for your pets.
4. Create a Durable Power of Attorney
Your estate plan should not be limited to providing instructions for after your death. Creating a durable power of attorney will also allow you to make your wishes known in case of incapacitation. With this document, you can dictate who should make key medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so on your own.
5. Consult an Estate Planning Attorney
Finally, you should meet with an experienced estate planning attorney who will ensure your documents are properly drafted and executed to stand up in court. They will also make sure your estate plan meets your unique needs and educate you on ways to reduce estate taxes and avoid probate.
Keep in mind that estate planning isn’t something you do only once. Circumstances will change over the years, warranting an update to your plan. The professionals at Cada Cada Hoffman & Jewson offer more than 50 years of combined experience helping the residents of Lincoln, NE, put their affairs in order. They will guide you through the estate planning process from start to finish, ensuring you’ve addressed everything important to achieving your goals. Call (402) 477-2233 to schedule a consultation, and visit them online to learn more.