Nobody likes to think about their own death, but it is necessary. If you want to be sure that your family can continue to live their current lifestyle after your death, you need to have your estate in order ahead of time. If you’re unsure what to do, don’t just put it off until it is too late. Instead, use these tips to make it easier.
1. Know What You Have
You might not be aware of exactly which assets you currently have. However, all of them will come into play as you set up your estate. Experts estimate that 50% to 60% of Americans don’t have a will. This means that their assets won’t necessarily go where they want them to. Start the process by gathering all of your assets. This includes physical and digital assets. Make a list and determine how much each is worth. Once you know what you’re working with, it’ll make the rest of the process go smoothly.
2. Gather Your Documents
There are three steps to estate planning. You need to prepare essential documents, transfer your assets, and set up power of attorney for end-of-life and healthcare directives. To start this, you’re going to need some important documents. This includes both ones you already have and those you’ll fill out during your estate planning. Make sure you have everything you need. This could include things like birth certificates and marriage certificates. If you don’t have copies, get some. Once you have everything you need, you’ll have the information and copies required to go with your estate plan.
3. Make End-of-Life Plans
There may be a situation where you are alive, but unable to make your wishes known. This is common in cases of sudden illness or accidents. By making end-of-life plans, you can make sure that your loved ones know what you want if this is to happen to you. Consider whether you want to remain on life support or if you’d rather be taken off of it. While these kinds of questions aren’t fun to consider, they’ll help you transition to death more peacefully than you would without them.
4. Work With an Expert
You should work with a professional estate planner as you go through this process. They’ll be able to help you figure out what your options are and which would be the best choice for you. They can also help you navigate taxes and other things that might leave your family with less money. For instance, a GRAT can remove assets from your taxable estate, protecting them for your heirs. An estate planner will know about these things, so they can find the tricks that work best for you.
5. Select an Estate Administrator
You’ll need someone to take the lead when it comes to fulfilling your last wishes. Choose the right person well in advance. You want someone who lives a sensible lifestyle and will be able to work efficiently and fairly to get your assets distributed. The time after a loved one’s death can be tumultuous and filled with conflict. Don’t just choose someone because you’re close to them. Instead, make sure you choose the person that would be the best fit for the job.
Estate planning doesn’t have to be a regular part of your lifestyle. However, if you take the time to get it done, you won’t need to think about it much afterward. You’ll only have to make changes when certain situations come up. Otherwise, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your assets will be divided according to your wishes and that your family will be cared for if something happens to you.