Creating an estate plan is never something that anyone looks forward to doing. However, you would be remiss to ignore putting all of your wishes in a legally binding document. You can save your loved ones a significant amount of time and headache if you take the time to put your wishes for your estate in writing. Here are the steps that you need to take to set up your estate for the future.
Consider Your Options and Wishes
Before you dive into creating your plan, you want to carefully think through all of your options. Having a discussion with your loved ones and communicating your needs and intentions will help you to properly think through your intentions. Issues to consider include the distribution of your assets, who will care for your children if they are still minors, who will you appoint to make medical decisions about your health if you are unable to do so, and what type of life-sustaining measures you want in an effort to save your life. Although these are difficult thoughts to work through, they are an inevitable part of the process of designing a thorough estate plan.
Create Your Plan
Now that you have thoughts organized, you can start the official process of creating the estate plan. The important thing to know is that you do not have to work on these details on your own. There are various estate plan services that are available to help you to ensure that you have a binding and detailed document that clearly states your wishes. You do not want to leave planning your estate to chance. Consulting with the help of a professional will deliver you maximum peace of mind. Included in your estate plan should be your will, a trust, and powers of attorney.
Store Your Documents Safely
After you have the signed documents notarized, you need to take care to keep them organized and stored together. The original documents should be safely stored and easily accessible for the executor of your estate. A safe-deposit box or a fireproof and waterproof safe are good places to keep these documents together. Organize all of the signed papers and keep them together. Your attorney needs to also know where the original documents are stored. In addition, your attorney should have a few copies of the original document in case something happens to them. As a backup, it is a good idea to create electronic copies of important documents. You can then share these with anyone who needs to be privy to the information. Do not make the mistake of going to the trouble of creating an estate plan and then not storing it correctly.
Inform Your Loved Ones
It is understandable to feel uneasy about having a conversation about your estate with loved ones. However, it is important that you have these difficult talks so that everyone is aware of your decisions. In addition to the details of your estate, you should also make sure that you inform your loved one about your funeral requests, including your wishes on your end-of-life medical care, organ donation, and more. Do not put your loved ones in the position of not knowing how you want to proceed.
Review and Revise
Even the best-laid estate plan may need to change on occasion. There are a variety of life events that may necessitate that you tweak the estate plan to reflect the new circumstances. Some of the most common life events that may change your plan include a new marriage, divorce, death in the family, and changing financial situations. Making it a goal to review your plan on an annual basis will ensure that it stays up to date to reflect your current conditions. You also want to make sure that your beneficiary designations are always current with the right contact information.
While it may be a small hassle to go through all of these steps, it is far less than the challenge of not having an estate plan when you most need it. You will sleep better at night knowing that you have a solid estate plan that is the right representation of your true wishes for your family.