The 4 Steps of Estate Planning
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The 4 Steps of Estate Planning

  • Create a list of all that you have
  • Devise a plan
  • Carry out the plan
  • Keep your plan current

Step 1: List All That You have

The best method to begin an estate planning is to take an inventory of each of your assets. Establishing these in advance can save a lot of time down the road, particularly if you’re working alongside an attorney or are devising a joint plan with your spouse. Retain your list in a place in which you can easily go back to keep it current.

Be sure to include:

  • Each of your financial institution accounts with at a minimum estimated balances
  • Each of the investments you have
  • Retirement plans that you have, as well as pensions
  • Real estate and/or property you are owner of
  • Businesses you are owner of, entirely or partially
  • Personal belongings of value, from your grandfathers WWII watch to your collection of stamps
  • Insurance policies
  • Digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies and other capital reserves
  • Passwords and e-mail accounts in which you receive important correspondence
  • Each of the debts you owe

Having your assets inventoried can also help you in other cases, such as when you’re applying for homeowners’ insurance and are required to know how much coverage you need.

One thing you may not be required to include. Any POD accounts you have. Also referred to as TOD accounts, the capital in these accounts pay out to a designate beneficiary, avoiding probate.

Step 2: Devise a Plan

After you have a record of each of your things, you can begin to devise an estate plan. Think about the individual(s) you wish to pass things on to. These are referred to as your beneficiaries. Additionally, think about who you would bequeath things should something happen to your initial beneficiary choice. (These alternatives are referred to as your secondary or provisional beneficiaries.)

How you actually devise your plan is subject to your situation.

One advantage of working alongside a professional is that they have knowledge planning estates and are experienced on how to devise a plan even when you unsure what you want to do. And although an attorney is going to cost more, it could save your loved ones from the expense of a costly probate trial should anyone challenge your will.

You can find more assistance on how to devise an estate plan down the road.

Step 3: Carry Out Your Plan

Your individual situation establishes how exactly this step in going to look. For many people, you will not have to do much as of now. You are going to sign documents, place them in a safe area, and then inform everyone that is involved in the plan that you have in fact signed the documents.

Having said that, you might have quite a lot to do after your plan becomes official. Perhaps are going to need to change the names on some titles, sell a property, or start routinely gifting capital and assets to your beneficiaries.

Step 4: Keep Your Plan Current

It’s vital that you keep your estate plan current and that you continue adhering to your plan. This is especially true if you devise your plan while you’re young or when you experience a significant change in life, such as a divorce or the adoption of a child. In a lot of cases, a beneficiary might pass away prior to you.

Even when there are no significant changes in your life, you must remember to follow your plan. When your plan demands for joint titling with your spouse and you purchase a new vehicle, you are going to need to be sure to place your spouse’s name on the vehicle title. An ideal estate plan can be thwarted if you do not do your part to adhere to it.


  1. Estate planning: A complete guide for 2022. Policygenius. (n.d.). Retrieved March 1, 2022, from

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