Estate planning has a reputation for being overwhelming, complicated and downright tiring to even think about starting. However, small steps are key to success, and it’s not that hard to get past the finish line.
Everyone has an estate, and if you’re over 18, it’s time to start estate planning. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
So, where do you start?
Step #1: Yes, you have an estate.
You may be young or old, but everyone has an estate. An estate consists of everything you own – your house, car, checking and savings accounts, investments, insurance, quirky collections, furniture, and more. It’s time to think about where all this will go, because you can’t take it with you when you die. This is what estate planning is all about.
Step #2: Start by drafting a simple will.
A simple will is the foundation to an estate plan. They are inexpensive to draft and solve the most basic issues found in estate planning. The consequences of dying intestate (i.e., without even a basic will) can be dramatic and cause extra stress among family members who are grieving. Here are a few online resources for drafting a will:
Step #3: Talk with your family and ask what they want.
Even though it is difficult to confront the fact that you aren’t going to live forever, it is necessary to have the conversation with family now rather than wait until it is too late and leave your family with a mess to deal with after you are gone. Ask your family members, friends and others if there are any special belongings they would like to inherit. Yes, this might spark some debates, but it is worth it in the end and it will show that you have a good plan in place for estate planning.
Step #4: Consider a trust.
If you have a large estate or a complex family situation, you may find that a trust will be your next step after a will. A trust is unlike a will because it lives on after you die. Your assets stay in the trust until your beneficiaries reach a certain age. The trustee you select manages your trust until the time when your beneficiaries are old enough to inherit the assets in it.
Step #5: Set up a way for family members to access your estate plan.
Plan your estate by securely saving and granting access to essential documents or information on where to find them — such as wills, beneficiary designations, prenuptial agreements, powers of attorney, and more. There are a few resources out there, including a Digital Key with The TriggerBox.
Step #6: Create a lasting legacy.
Last but not least, make sure you store memories and photos online for your loved ones to access after you leave. Ensure the family tree and stories are documented, stored and in the hands of your children or grandchildren when they will appreciate them.
Still confused about estate planning? Check out this post on EstatePlanning.com: What is Estate Planning?
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