Estate Planning 2023 Checklist
Planning your estate prepares you for traumatic situations like death and disability. Planning can help you avoid unpleasant scenarios, even if thinking about them is never fun. With a well-designed estate plan, you and your family may experience less suffering and better financial consequences than if you hadn’t had one.
Everyone may benefit from ensuring their possessions and finances are appropriately managed after their death, which is why estate planning is not only for the wealthy.
Without a will, a probate court can distribute assets inadvertently. If you become disabled, estate planning is still helpful. An estate plan is crucial if you have minor children since it will designate their guardians if your spouse cannot look after them after your passing.
Here is the list of all the documents you should have to create your estate plan:
Last will and testament
Your will is the first and most crucial document you require. In your will, you specify who you wish to inherit particular possessions and assets after you pass away. You designate who you wish to inherit specific possessions and assets in your will.
This covers both your material assets, such as your home and personal belongings, and your intangible assets, such as your bank and investment accounts. Beneficiaries are the people who get your assets. These could be members of your family, close friends, or even meaningful nonprofit organizations.
State rules often control what happens to your possessions and dependents if you pass away without a will. There could be an issue if such regulations result in a situation you wouldn’t have preferred.
In your will, you should always designate a guardian for your minor children and a backup. Without a guardian designation, the courts may place your young children with a family member of their choice or even in the state’s custody.
If you become incapacitated due to an illness or injury, advance directives allow you to choose healthcare agents and specify your wishes.
An advanced healthcare directive enables you to indicate in advance how and by whom choices about your medical care should be made if you ever cannot make them for yourself. A medical power attorney and also a living will are the two primary parts of an AHCD.
You can choose a person, known as your healthcare agent, to make healthcare choices on your behalf if you cannot do so. For instance, if you were asleep or in a coma, your agent would take over to make healthcare decisions.
Ahead-of-time directives (AHCDs) let you specify your medical preferences for a “future you” who can’t. Through FreeWill, an AHCD can be made without cost. Also, many medical offices and hospitals offer this form upon request.
Statement of Intent
Simply put, a letter of intent is a document that is given to your executor or beneficiary. The goal is to specify what should happen to a specific asset in the event of your passing or incapacity. In certain letters of intent, special wishes or funeral information is also included.
While such a document may not be legally legitimate, it helps a probate judge understand your intentions. It may aid in distributing your assets if the will is later found to be defective for whatever reason.
Designations of Beneficiaries
Even without a revocable trust, certain assets may pass directly to a beneficiary after your passing without going through probate. This group includes non-probate assets such as 401(k) plans, pensions, and life insurance policies.
You must designate a beneficiary for each institution where you hold a non-probate asset (such as your bank or life insurance provider) if you want these assets to avoid probate.
You shouldn’t include non-probate assets in your will since they avoid the probate process. Maintaining your beneficiary selections current is critical because they supersede anything included in your will.
Financial Power of Attorney
By executing a financial power of attorney, you can appoint someone legally to handle your finances and property. Some responsibilities include managing your real estate investment, paying your expenses, and making deposits into your bank account.
If you require medical attention, your financial agent may also utilize your assets to cover your medical expenses and provide for your family while you cannot do so. Together, your financial and healthcare agents can ensure that you can afford the medical treatment that has been recommended for you.
Revocable Living Trust
You can use a revocable living trust as a legal entity while still alive. You can withdraw funds or revoke the trust because it is revocable. Yet, these trusts may be helpful if you can’t manage your finances or want to retain authority over them after death. You may make arrangements for someone else to handle the finances and provide for your kids when you die away rather than leaving assets to them right away.
All of your insurance policy documentation, including life, health, auto, and home insurance, should be kept in one location. A list of your financial accounts, including access information, should also be kept. This comprises financial records such as bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages, loans, tax returns, investment portfolios, and pension plans.
Although a will is crucial to an estate plan, only some people need one. Yet, everyone should have one. Regardless of your financial situation, estate planning may be done because it includes crucial information like naming guardians for your minor children and ensuring that your assets flow to your named heirs.
Regarding death or disability, estate planning enables you to make financial management and medical care arrangements. You or your heirs may gain financially from forward preparation. Also, giving instructions on managing everything from medical difficulties to asset distributions simplifies life for your loved ones.