Whether you’re preparing your estate plan for the first time or are simply attending to important updates, estate planning needs to be a part of your year-end routine. Your estate plan is an organic set of documents that grows as you do. In a perfect world, you would begin when you reach age of majority and continue until death. If this describes you, great! If not, no worries. All that matter is that you begin now, while you still have time. What follows is an estate planning checklist to get you started.
Estate Planning Checklist: Five Key Steps
- Inventory Your Countable and Non-Countable Assets
You can’t organize your estate if you don’t know what it includes. Accordingly, step one to estate planning is inventorying your assets. This includes accounting for all real estate, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, etc., as well as all financial accounts, investments, retirement plans, and life insurance policies.
Naturally, this inventory will change and grow and so each year it is important to look at last year’s list and account for differences.
- Look Out for Your Loved Ones
You wouldn’t be the first person to overlook a new granddaughter, stepson, or other type of dependent in your estate plan. It can be easy to put off making updates when your family grows and yet doing so can have tragic consequences.
Each year when you inventory your assets, likewise make sure your guardianship designations are current and that you carry enough life insurance to cover all of your dependents’ needs.
- Execute (or Update) Your Advance Directives
Advance directives are one cornerstone of any robust estate plan. These include your financial power of attorney, healthcare directive, and, in some cases, living will (not to be confused with your last will and testament).
Together, these documents work to ensure trusted loved ones are designated to handle your financial and medical affairs should you suffer incapacitation. Making a review of these designations a part of your yearly estate planning checklist is important because your relationships are as apt to change as any other aspect of your life.
- Review Your Beneficiary Designations
Beneficiary designations made on retirement and life insurance accounts take precedence over any other document, including your will. Accordingly, it is important that ensure this information remains consistent with the rest of your plan lest conflict among your family ensue when you’re gone.
- Work with a Professional
Executing and maintaining your estate plan is vital and so it’s important you get it right. An experienced estate planning attorney is your best resource for ensuring your plan is robust, complete, and well-maintained. After all, it’s not just personal growth that affects your plan, but changes in legislation and policy—and these are details only a professional can track.
Contact the Estate Planning Attorneys at Deliberato Law Center
To learn more about making estate planning a yearly resolution, do not hesitate to reach out to the Deliberato Law Center today either by calling us at (216) 341-3413 or using the contact form on our website.