Planning for the future is a part of life, whether it is planning for college, buying a home, having kids, retirement, or even your eventual death. Even though death can be scary, it’s something that needs to be considered. As Benjamin Franklin said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.
These 7 estate planning tips will help you plan for not only your future, but the future of your immediate family as well.
Take a Physical Items Inventory
Go through your home and make a list (mental or physical) of all items worth $100 or more. This can include everything from the home itself, to television sets, jewelry, collectibles, vehicles, guns, computers/laptops, lawn mower, power tools and so on.
Take a Non-Physical Items Inventory
Next, start adding up your non-physical assets. These include things you own on paper or other entitlements that are predicated on your death. Items listed here would include: brokerage accounts, 401k plans, IRA assets, bank accounts, life insurance policies, and ALL other existing insurance policies such as long-term care, homeowners, auto, disability, health and so on.
Maintain a Debts List
Make a separate list for open credit cards and other debts. This should include auto loans, existing mortgages, home equity lines of credit, open credit cards with and without balances, and any other debts you might owe. A good practice is to run a free credit report at least once a year and make sure you close out any credit cards that are no longer in use.
Simplify Your Life
If you’ve changed jobs over the years, it’s quite likely that you might have several different 401(k)-type retirement plans still open with past employers or maybe even several different IRA accounts. You may want to consider consolidating these accounts into one IRA account to take advantage of better investment choices, lower costs, a larger selection of investments, more control and less paperwork/easier management when assets are consolidated.
Select a Responsible Estate Administrator
Your estate administrator will be responsible for following the rules of your Will in the event of your death. It is important that you select an individual who is responsible and in a good mental state to make decisions. Think about all qualified individuals and how emotions related to your death will affect this person’s decision-making ability.
Create a Will
Everyone over the age of 18 should have a Will. It is the rule book for distribution of your assets and it could prevent havoc among your heirs. Wills are fairly inexpensive estate planning documents to draft and can be made with help from the steps above. The drafting and signing of a Will must follow very specific steps as prescribed by law. Consulting with an attorney is recommended.
If you are interested in the experienced help of a knowledgeable and skilled estate planning lawyer to develop your wills and trusts, call the Hampton Roads estate planning lawyers of The Decker Law Firm at 757-622-3317.