No one likes to think of the day that they'll no longer be among the living. An even worse thought, though, is leaving this Earth and not providing for your family and loved ones after you're gone. The purpose of an estate plan is to make sure that the big items all the way down to the minor details are laid out for your loved ones, so that lessens the financial burden and strain of your absence. Here is a simple checklist to get you started on a basic estate plan.
Get a Will
One of the first things that you should do is to create a will. This is a legal document that describes how you want your assets distributed, who will take care of minor children, and how you wish your final arrangements to be carried out. Contrary to popular belief, wills don't need to be long, complicated, or expensive to create.
Establish a Trust
The best way to avoid a lengthy probate process with a will is to establish a trust. A trust will hold your assets until it is time for distribution after your death. An estate planning professional can help make sure that this is done properly and that concerns such as estate taxes are considered at the same time.
Protect Your Wishes
If you have particular medical choices that you'd like followed or want to make sure that someone can take care of your affairs while you're still living, you'll need to create some legal documents. A durable power of attorney and a living will can take care of both of these matters. A power of attorney gives someone the right to act on your behalf, and a living will specifies the types of medical treatment that you wish to receive (and just as importantly, that you don't consent to receive) if you are unable to speak for yourself.
Establish Life Insurance Protection
Having a life insurance policy is one of the best tools to protect your family's financial future. Accidents and unplanned illnesses occur every day to unsuspecting families, and a simple term life insurance policy can provide many years of income replacement should you pass away.
Make Some Lists
When a family member passes away, it's a stressful time even if it didn't happen suddenly. A key part of estate planning is taking as much of the burden as possible off of your loved ones. Making some simple lists can help out a great deal. Just a few of the things that you'll want to include are:
- Keep your files up to date and let family members know where they are.
- List bank accounts and make sure that family members know how to access them.
- List accountants, attorneys, and executors with contact information.
- Have all investment portfolios, retirement accounts, and insurance policies in one place.
- Leave copies of past tax returns.
- Have copies of any property deeds or other important ownership documents available.
- Make a list of online accounts, with usernames and passwords.
Taking care of these estate planning items will also ensure that you are taking care of your loved ones after you're gone. To ensure that your current wishes are documented take the time to periodically update both your will and insurance policy beneficiaries.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the easier it is to make an intelligent choice. Everyday life, as well as certain events and circumstances, require you to make choices. And peace of mind is gained when you feel good about the decisions you make.
When it comes to life insurance, IntelliQuote is there for you to make the intelligent, well-informed choice. From term life insurance to universal life insurance and final expense insurance, we make it easy for you to compare, shop and save. Get multiple quotes now and make the intelligent decision for Life.