Estate planning can be a daunting task, especially for someone with numerous assets. That may be why a recent study found that while 69% of Americans report considering writing a will, only 34% actually do so—and another 95% say that they don’t have the knowledge of estate planning basics or tools they need to create a thorough estate plan.
While an estate planning service or professional may be the best way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after you’re gone, everyone can get started right away with a few estate planning basics.
- Take stock of your assets. This includes both tangible and intangible assets; you’ll want to assess the value of any real estate, vehicles, collectibles, heirlooms, or other physical possessions, as well as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, life insurance policies, retirement plans, and any ownership in businesses. It’s never too early to start keeping a close eye on your assets, so you can begin this right away and plan for estate and inheritance taxes.
- Who are your beneficiaries? After you take stock of your assets, determine how you’ll distribute them to your beneficiaries, including your spouse, children, and other family members and friends. You’ll also need to determine how they’ll receive them, such as whether outright or through a trust, which might be more appropriate in the case of children.
- Choose an executor. Someone will need to manage your estate plan, whether it’s a member of the family, an attorney, or a corporate trustee. In case you become incapacitated, you’ll want someone to have power of attorney and you’ll need to establish an including the possibility of a “do not resuscitate” order. Your healthcare directive especially may need to be updated as your healthcare needs change.
- What kind of plan works for your estate? Most families’ assets can be thoroughly covered by a will, but a revocable trust might be more appropriate for more complicated cases, such as owning property in multiple states.
- Find a professional. Ask friends, family members, and colleagues for their recommendations for attorneys with estate planning expertise—they’ll not only be able to provide you with all the estate planning tips you need, they’ll also be able to guide you through the entire process, including dealing with state and national tax laws that may affect your family. Your state’s bar association or the American Bar Association can also help you find the attorney who’s right for you.
As you assess your estate, you may find yourself in need of additional funds. If your estate includes a life insurance policy, you may be eligible for Fifth Season Financial Funds for Living and Giving (FLAG) program, which allows you to receive an advance payment from your life insurance policy while preserving funds for your beneficiaries to receive in the future. Contact Fifth Season Financial online to learn more about this important resource or call us at (866) 459-1271 today.
Disclaimer: Fifth Season Financial is not a financial advisor or consultant and recommends that you speak to an advisor or expert before making any significant financial