An estate plan should provide for you and your loved one’s well being in the event of your disability or death. Your estate plan should detail how your assets will be distributed upon death, the medical care you wish to receive in the event of disability, the extent to which probate can be avoided, and how estate tax is to be minimized. An estate planning checklist can make sure your end of life desires are met. Read on to learn more about what your estate planning checklist should include.

Step 1: Establish Estate Planning Goals

The first thing you should do when creating an estate planning checklist is to set definitive goals. Do you want to continue giving to charities upon your passing? Are you seeking ways to avoid probate and reduce estate taxes? Do you want specific assets to go to certain loved ones? Your estate planning checklist should lay out all the goals you seek to achieve when drafting your estate plan.

Step 2: Plan Your Asset Ownership

A key way to avoid probate is to plan your asset ownership. This includes executing legal documents that will help to avoid probate and allow the easy transfer of real estate, motor vehicles, and bank accounts to a co-owner, spouse or other beneficiary. This usually includes property held as joint tenants in common with rights of survivorship, tenants by the entirety, or as community property.

You can plan your asset ownership by completing a net worth statement that includes a list of your assets and liabilities. You may also want to research what assets that may be able to be transferred through pay-on-death provisions, and identify the legal documents necessary to carry out those provisions.

Step 3: Draft Your Estate Plan

Once you determine your estate planning goals, you will need to draft documents to make sure your assets are transferred according to your desires. Here is a list of important documents that may be part of your estate plan:

  1. Last Will and Testament
  2. Revocable Living trust
  3. Special Needs Trust
  4. Advanced Healthcare Directive
  5. Durable Power of Attorney for Finances

An Advanced Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney for Finances will cover your medical and financial needs in the event of your disability.

Step 4: Cover Your Debts with Insurance

Review your debts and insurance policy to ensure you provide income protection to your family. If you want to make sure your debts are paid in the event of your death or disability, you may want to consider obtaining an auto, homeowners, disability, or life insurance policies.

Step 5: Communicate Your Estate Plan Wishes

Once you finalize your estate plan, communicate your wishes to your loved ones. This will help avoid family conflicts and minimize any confusion or questions regarding your intentions. Identify the assets which will not pass through a will to loved ones.

Step 6: Review Your Estate Plan Annually

Do not create an estate plan and then fail to review it annually. Certain laws may change impacting the transfer of assets in your estate plan. Update your plan when major life events occur. Some situations that may require you to change your estate plan include the following:

  • The birth of a child or grandchild
  • Divorce or marriage
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Dissolution of a family business

Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to create the necessary documents that incorporate the goals of your estate planning checklist. Do not delay in creating an estate plan. Doing so may subject your estate to probate and estate tax and cost your beneficiaries thousands of dollars of added expense.

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