It’s very important to have a plan in place should you pass away.
Things to Consider Prior to Your Passing Away
- There is a lot more to estate planning than just creating a will. Taking into account all your assets and wishes is going to guarantee your plan is carried out streamlined after your passing.
- Keeping written lists (and notifying your estate director of the whereabouts of those lists) is going to make sure no assets and/or wishes get overlooked.
- By appointing beneficiaries on retirement accounts and finishing the transfer on death appointments on other accounts, you can retain those assets from passing under your will.
More Than a Last Will and Testament
Estate planning goes beyond creating a will. Comprehensive planning means accounting for all of your assets and guaranteeing they transfer as streamlined as possible to the individuals or entities you want to receive them. Along with carrying out your plan, you need to make sure others know about it and understand what your wishes are.
Unsure how to get begin? Following this checklist, you’ll have covered a lot of, if not all, of the things necessary.
Catalog Your Inventory
To begin, go over the inside and outside of your home, and create a list of every valuable item. Instances include the home, big screen TV’s, jewels, vehicles, collections, art and antiques, computers and/or laptops, yard equipment, and power tools.
The list is going to probably be a great deal longer than you may have thought. When progressing, you might want to add notes when someone you think of that you would like to have the item following your passing.
Follow that Up with Your Non-Physical Assets
Now, start adding your non-physical assets to the list, things that you are ownership of on paper or other entitlements that are declared on your passing. The items listed would include securities accounts, 401K’s, IRAs, financial institution accounts, life insurance, and other policies like prolonged care, homeowners, vehicle, disability, and health insurance.
Include every account number and list the whereabouts of any physical paperwork you have possession of. You may also want to include contact information for the firms holding your non-physical assets.
Collect a List of Your Debts
Create a different list for open credit cards and other commitments you might have. This should comprise of items like vehicle loans, mortgages, home equity lines of credit, and other debts you may owe on. Once more, include account numbers, the whereabouts of signed agreements, and the contact information of the entities holding your debt.
Include every credit card, noting the ones that are used regularly and the cards that tend to sit in a drawer.
- It’s generally a good idea to have a free credit report ran at least once annually. This is going to also discover any credit cards you might have forgotten about.
Make a Memberships List
If you belong to any associations like AARP, The American Legion, a veteran’s association, a professional certification association, or college alum groups, create a list of them. In a lot of cases, these organizations could have accidental life insurance benefits (free) for their members, and your beneficiaries might be qualified to collect.
Also, any other charitable associations that you back. Also, it is wise to tell your beneficiaries which charitable entities or causes that you love and to which you may want donations to go to in your memory.
Make Copies of the Lists
After you finish completing your lists, you should date, sign them, and make a minimum of 3 copies. The original needs to be entrusted to your estate director. The second copy should be entrusted to your spouse (when you’re married) and put in a safe-deposit box. Retain the final copy for yourself in a secure place.
Examine Your Retirement Accounts
Accounts and policies that have named beneficiaries are going to pass directly to those individuals or entities following your passing. It doesn’t matter the way you direct these accounts or policies be distributed through your will or trust. The beneficiary associated to the retirement account are going to take precedence.
Get a hold of your employer’s customer service department or plan manager for a present listing of your beneficiary choice for each of your accounts. Go over each of those accounts to be sure the beneficiaries are up to date and listed precisely as you wish. This is particularly important when you have divorced and then remarried.
Update Your Insurance
Just like your retirement accounts, life insurance and annuities are going to pass directly to designated beneficiaries. It is vital to contact all life insurance companies in which you have policies to guarantee that your beneficiaries are current and listed as you wish.
Appoint Transfer on Death Designations
Assets bestowed in a will typically goes through probate, just like assets when someone passes away intestate. This procedure, in which your assets are distributed by means of court instruction, can be expensive and lengthy.
Nevertheless, a lot of accounts, like financial institute savings, certificate of deposit accounts, and individual investment accounts, are needlessly probated each day. When holding these accounts, they can be established—or modified—to have a transfer on death (TOD) designation, in which allows beneficiaries to receive assets bypassing the probate process. Contact your director or financial institution to arrange this on your accounts.
Choose a Responsible Estate Director
Your estate director or executor you choose is going to be in charge of managing your will when you pass away. It is vital that you choose an individual that is responsible and in a healthy mental state for making decisions.
Don’t instantly think that your spouse is the ideal choice. Contemplate on how emotions associated to your passing is going to impact this individual’s decision-making ability. If you predict an issue, think about other qualified individuals.
Draft a Will
Each individual over age 18 needs to have a will. It is the guideline for the allocation of your assets, and it could impede chaos among your heirs. A will also can designate a guardian for minor children, and designate who needs to take care for your pets. You are also able leave assets to charitable associations using your will, too.
Wills are somewhat inexpensive estate-planning documentation to devise; a lot of attorneys can help you create a will for $1,000 or less, subject to on the complexity of your assets and your geographical location. You are also able devise your own will with the help of online services or other software bundles.
Be sure that you sign and date your will, in the presence of two non-related witnesses that need to also sign the document, and then have it notarized. Lastly, be sure other individuals know the whereabouts of the document so that they can access it when required.
Routinely Go Over Your Documents
Go over your will for updates at a minimum of once every two years or so, and following any significant life-changing occurrences (marriage, divorces, the birth of a child, etc). Life is continually changing, and your assets and wishes are mostly likely to change along with it, too.
Copy the Director
After your will gets completed, signed, witnessed, and gets notarized, you are going to want to be sure that your estate director obtains a copy. When the original isn’t being retained in your home (for instance, it’s in your attorney’s office), you need to also retain a copy in a safe place at your home.
- Remember that whereas you are able to make copies, only the initial will—the “wet signature” document, in estate-planning terminology—is able to be filed for probate.
Meet With an Estate Attorney and/or a Financial Advisor
Whereas you may believe you have covered all your bases, it might be a good idea to meet with a professional on a full-investment and insurance plan. And when it’s been a while, you might want to go over your plan again. As you age, your requirements may change, like determining if you need long-term care insurance and safeguarding your estate from a huge tax bill or drawn-out court proceedings. Professionals are also going to be up to date on changes in legislation and income and/or estate tax laws, which could affect your last wishes.
Simplify Your Finances
When you’ve switched jobs over the years, it’s quite possible that you have several different 401K retirement plans currently open with previous employers or possibly even several various IRA accounts. You might want to think about combining those accounts into a single IRA. The combining of accounts allows for better investment decisions, lower costs, a bigger selection of investments, less paperwork, and simpler management.
Complete Other Important Documents
At the very least, you should devise a will, POA, healthcare surrogate, and living will. Your will needs to also designate guardianship for any minor children in addition to any pets. Think about setting in place both financial and medical power of attorney so that individual you trust are going to be there managing your affairs if something should happen to you.
You can also write a letter of instruction to put in place step-by-step instructions as well as spell out your individual wishes for things such as your funeral or what is going to happen to your digital assets such as social media accounts. When you’re married, each spouse needs to create a separate will, including plans in place for the surviving spouse. In the end, make sure that all those involved have copies of these documents.
Take Advantage of College Funding Accounts
You might also want to set up 529 college savings plan for any grandchildren you may have. Using these plans, savings increase tax-free, and a lot of states provide tax deductions for the individual contributing the funds.
Not making a decision and moving forward is the biggest enemy when estate planning. Whereas none of us would prefer not to think about passing away, convoluted or no planning at all may lead to family conflict, assets going to the wrong people, drawn out court cases, and more money owed to estate taxes. Start NOW.
Segal, T. (2021, November 20). To do before you die: 16 estate-planning tips. Investopedia. Retrieved November 26, 2021, from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/10/estate-planning-checklist.asp.
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