The thought of creating an estate plan is daunting. Deciding what to do with your assets and assigning people to important roles to make decisions on your behalf may stress you out. But you can accomplish this seemingly intimidating task quite easily.
Once you get the preparation out of the way, setting up a plan is relatively simple. Here are the core steps to creating a solid estate plan.
1. Take inventory of your assets
Before you make a will, you need to fully understand your finances and belongings. This requires you to make a list of your assets and debts, including the following:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Retirement plans
- Business interests
- Life insurance benefits
- Real estate
- Collectible items
- Sentimental belongings
- Credit card debt
- Personal loans
Putting this list together will help you decide what to give to whom. It will also give you an idea of your net worth and whether you need to strategically avoid estate taxes or probate.
2. Draft a will
Your last will and testament is the cornerstone of your estate plan. Writing a will allows you to ensure your heirs get the assets you want them to receive, appoint an executor to distribute your estate and pay your debts after you pass away, and name a guardian for any minor children.
Once you sign your will, you can pat yourself on the back for this accomplishment!
3. Assign powers of attorney
You should consider financial and health care POAs regardless of your age or income level. This process allows you to designate an individual to make money and/or medical decisions for you if you ever cannot do this for yourself. You get to name people you trust to manage your finances and make end-of-life care decisions for you. This gives you and your entire family peace of mind about your wishes being followed in any circumstance.
If you follow these three steps, you will have a solid estate plan. But you may need to take further steps depending on your finances and needs.