Life is full of uncertainties. We all aspire to live long happy lives, but the harsh reality is that tragedy can strike at the most unexpected times. While you may not have the power to prevent tragedies from occurring, you do have the power to create a plan to protect your family and your assets. One of the best ways to protect your loved ones and property is to have an estate plan. While the thought of creating an estate plan may seem intimidating or scary, you can map out a plan by breaking the process down into straightforward, manageable steps. Below is an estate planning checklist to help you prepare for life’s uncertainties.
What are ten items to include in your estate planning checklist?
“There is more to estate planning than deciding how to divvy up your assets when you die. It’s also about making certain your family members and other beneficiaries are provided for and have access to your assets upon your temporary or permanent incapacity.” – Investopedia
A comprehensive, organized estate plan can be a difference-maker when an unexpected tragedy or event impacts your life. With just a bit of advance planning, you can make sure that life-altering decisions reflect your wishes rather than being made by the State of Colorado. Below are ten items to include in your estate planning checklist.
1) Make a list of your assets. Be sure to include all of your financial assets, property, and possessions you own. Also, note any assets you own jointly.
2) Identify your beneficiaries. List anyone you would like to protect or give your assets to. Examples include spouse, children, siblings, and pets.
3) Note any charitable gifts. To leave any money or possessions to charity, you need to set up a charitable trust or outline your wishes in your plan.
4) Calculate any taxes owed. Calculating taxes can be a bit complicated. An estate law specialist or tax attorney can help you complete this step.
5) Consider the needs of your beneficiaries. Special steps might be required if your beneficiaries are young children or individuals with special needs.
6) Have a contingency plan. If something happens to one of your key beneficiaries, be sure to have a backup plan or an alternative person designated.
7) Designate a living will. Outline your wishes and note who will make decisions for you if you are incapacitated or approaching the end of your life.
8) Review your insurance coverage. Depending on your finances, you may need to secure additional life insurance coverage to provide for dependents.
9) Consider a living trust. This step can help you avoid lengthy probate delays in Colorado.
10) Protect your plan. Store your plan and all documentation in a safe secure location. The storage space you choose should be fireproof and waterproof.
What is the final and most important item to include in your Estate Planning checklist?
The last and most critical item on your checklist is to put your plan in place. The best estate plan in the world is only a plan unless it is properly implemented. A great way to ensure that your plan is comprehensive and reflects your wishes is to reach out to a trained lawyer. In addition to helping you prepare legal documents, a lawyer can help you transfer your assets into a trust and make any changes to your property ownership.
Finally, it is important to review your plan periodically. Your relationships with your designated beneficiaries may evolve, your health may improve or decline, or your financial situation may change. For these reasons alone, it is important to review your plan at least once annually, or after any life-changing event. An annual review of your plan will help to ensure that it reflects your current wishes and circumstances.
What is the best way to make sure you create the perfect estate plan?
“A good estate planning attorney will counsel you through a variety of issues and ask a series of questions that will help them understand your goals and recommend an estate plan that is designed for you.” – Colorado Bar Association
The estate planning checklist above provides a good road map for creating an estate plan. But the single best way to make sure that you do not omit any key details is to schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning lawyer. With the guidance of an accomplished attorney, you can experience peace of mind knowing that your loved ones and assets are protected if tragedy strikes and you are unable to make decisions on your own.
We invite you to reach out to our team of estate planning attorneys today. We will review your plan point by point and help ensure that you have left no stone unturned with regard to your final wishes. We look forward to helping you rest assured that your assets will be distributed to your designated beneficiaries according to your desires.