You may not realize it, but estate planning ranks pretty high on the list of lifetime responsibilities. Often times, it’s not the most popular of chores, causing many people to think about their own mortality, but it is most certainly necessary in order to achieve peace of mind that your affairs are in order when you’re no longer here.
So what do you need to think about when you’re planning your estate? Are there certain critical factors that you need to include in your estate plan? Well, the answers vary. Everyone’s life is unique, making for a unique plan, but we can advise on some variables to consider when you’re in midst of planning your estate.
Your Asset Inventory
It’s widely suggested that one of the first items on your estate planning checklist should be to compile an inventory of your valuables. Start with the physical items. Anything worth over $100 can be logged on a list, such as:
- Your home Jewelry
- Artwork Digital Assets
- Electronics Family heirlooms
- Vehicles Tools
The list can vary, based on your possessions, but the goal remains the same. Get your list of tangible things together, and then start on the intangibles:
- 401k plans
- Life insurance policies
- Bank accounts
Knowing what you have and what it’s worth will help make the estate planning process more organized and easier to handle.
Making a will is an important part of the estate planning process, as it provides for the division of your property and also, if applicable, the care of any minor children. If you are a Florida resident and pass away without a will, Florida law provides a will for you that may not align with your wishes. Make sure you create a will that matches your wishes for your assets.
Not to be confused with a will, drafting a living will should also be part of your estate plan. This document gives instructions, dealing with the medical care that you wish to have or not have in an event where you are unable to communicate what you want on your own.
Making a trust allows for the trustee you designate to make distributions according to the terms of the trust without having to get probate court approval as with a will. In addition, a trust provides individuals with privacy in that a trust is not filed in probate court like a will.
Your Power of Attorney
Making a durable power of attorney is also an important part of the estate planning process, as it provides for the agent you designate to make decisions for you should you become unable to do so for any reason.
Your Health Care Surrogate
Making a designation of health care surrogate should also be included in your estate plan. This document provides for the surrogate you designate to make health care decision for you should you become unable to do so for any reason.
Every two years, you should be reviewing and updating your estate plan documents. This ensures accuracy and reflects any changes that may have occurred during this time. It is also important to review and update all documents and accounts after a major life event, such as marriage, divorce or death of a spouse or child.
Your Estate Planning Attorney
You may think you’ve got it all handled, but you can’t be 100% sure unless you have a professional to assist you in the process. Your estate planning attorney will work with you to ensure that all of the things that you’ve worked so hard for your entire life are taken care of, and your plans are carried out as you wish. Estate planning attorneys can help with the following:
- Wills & Trusts
- Estate Planning
- Trust Administration
For help with planning your estate plan, contact attorneys, Craig Woodward, Jennifer Tenney or Cathrine Hunter with Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A. at (239) 649-6555 or visit www.wpl-legal for more information.