Planning the details of your estate is never an enjoyable activity—but it’s definitely a necessary one. If you don’t have a proper will and disaster strikes, your assets can wind up not getting divided the way you would have liked. And as a result, your loved ones could wind up suffering even more. With your end-of-life proceedings in order, you can rest easy knowing that your friends and family won’t have to negotiate things on their own terms in the untimely event of your passing. And once you get the details set, hopefully you won’t have to think about it for years to come.
Feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Just use this simple guide.
Before you make any decisions about your estate, first see what your estate actually entails. Do a complete inventory of all your assets—or, in other words, anything you own that can be converted into cash. This includes property, vehicles, ownership in companies, etc. Once you know how much you are worth financially, you can begin to make educated decisions about how to divide up your entire estate.
Create an official last will and testament, complete with all the details of your estate and any beneficiaries you choose to name. Designate an executor, a person you appoint to handle all affairs in your absence.
If there is an accident and you are unable to make decisions regarding your health, choose someone to do so for you. This should be a person you trust with your life— quite literally.
Just as you need to appoint someone as your medical power of attorney, you will need a financial power of attorney, too. This should be a person you trust to sign financial documents if a doctor deems you unfit to do so.
This is separate from your will. In the event of your death, the people on your list of beneficiaries will receive your assets divided as you see fit. Make sure you keep this current, as this can change over time.
If you have children or people that you would want taken care of in your absence, consider buying a life insurance plan that can provide for them when you are gone. To determine how much coverage you need, add up all your debts, loans and other expenses—and then divide that by 5%. The resulting amount is how much your family would need to lead a comfortable life.
Mears, Teresa. (2017, July 14). 10 Essential Estate Planning Tips Everyone Should Know.
Clark Bennett, Jane. (2012, December 31.) 8 Smart Estate Planning Steps to Die the Right Way. www.kiplinger.com/article/retirement/T021-C000-S002-8-smart-estate-planning-steps- to-die-the-right-way.html