When it comes to creating an estate plan, most people procrastinate for understandable reasons. For starters, no one likes to think about their death or the possibility that they could become disabled or otherwise unable to care for themselves. On the financial side, there are documents to gather, assets to take an accounting of, difficult decisions to be made, and the list goes on.
It’s easy to get bogged down by all of the “to do’s” and “what ifs.” However, one of the main benefits of creating an estate plan with an experienced Brandon will and trust lawyer is that he or she will be there to guide you through each step of the process and streamline—even simplify– all of your responsibilities. This allows you to create your plan with less stress and aggravation so that you can focus on the best outcomes for your family.
While everyone’s plan will look a bit different, starting the process generally centers around the following six action steps:
- Choose the people you trust to make decisions for you
Estate planning is all about choosing people you trust to make decisions for you if you’re incapacitated, have passed away, or simply want someone else to take over as you age. You’ll want to consider the best people to make medical decisions, handle your finances, and settle your estate. Keep in mind that it does not have to be the same person for each task.
- Decide who gets what after you pass away
Choosing beneficiaries is a key part of your estate plan. Sometimes it’s very straightforward: all your assets will pass to your spouse or children. In other cases, like having a blended family or in a situation where there is no next-of-kin, you may need to get a little creative. Either way, you’ll want to have a clear idea of who gets what when you pass away.
- Create a list of financial accounts
A list of all your financial accounts, both solely-held and jointly-owned, is critical information for whoever you choose to take care of your finances. Hidden bank accounts can eat up a lot of time, money, and resources to track down, and if they’re never found, they can end up surrendered to the state.
- Locate any property deeds
Many estate plans involve transferring ownership of property from one person to another, or from a person to a trust. Securing a copy of your deed will make this process go much smoother.
- Consider Your Funeral Arrangements
No one wants to think about funeral arrangements, but the more planning you do before you pass away, the better it will be for your loved ones. A funeral director can help you learn more about pre-paid funeral plans and other ways to ease the burden for your loved ones.
- Talk to your family
The most important step is to talk to your family about your decisions – the choices you made and why you made them, as well as your wishes for what happens if you’re incapacitated or have died. These discussions aren’t always easy to have in person, so you may consider writing a note that explains all of these things that can be read after you pass away.
If you have any questions about creating an estate plan, or if you have an existing estate plan and want to update it for your current situation, please contact us at (813) 438-8503 to set up a consultation at our Brandon law firm.