5 easy steps to begin your estate plan
Your decision to make an estate plan may have come following the death of a loved one or after hearing someone talk about the frustration of dealing with a parent’s estate with no will left behind. Along with the grief of losing a loved one, family members are often left with difficult questions and months of complicated probate before they can close the Florida estate and move forward with their lives.
If you are determined not to leave your family struggling after you pass away, you may have many questions about how to begin the process of creating an estate plan. You may wonder what estate planning tools are available and which are most appropriate for protecting your unique family and safeguarding your assets. Although every situation is different, there are some general steps that may point you in the right direction.
Now is the time to get started
Your estate plan is something that can grow and adjust as your needs change, so there’s no reason to wonder if now is the right time to start on your plan. Many of the steps you take now will come in handy in the years to come as you fine-tune and revise your plan, such as the following:
- Inventory your assets, like your home, vehicles, jewelry or other valuables.
- Don’t forget about intangibles, such as investments, bank accounts, royalties and insurance policies.
- Gather documentation for your assets into one place, including recent appraisals for property and assets and statements from any financial accounts.
- Assess what your loved ones will need after you are gone, such as living expenses and educational expenses for your children.
- Decide who would be a fitting guardian for your children if you should die while they are still young, and outline in writing your wishes for their upbringing.
Once you have made these and other decisions, you are likely ready to put them into action through your estate planning tools.
Look beyond your belongings
In addition to writing a will and creating a trust to safeguard your assets, you would be wise to consider the benefits of a power of attorney, which grants authority to trusted individuals for making medical, financial and legal decisions for you should you become incapacitated. Difficult as it may be, creating an advance health care directive is also critical for relieving your loved ones of the anguish of making difficult choices in your name.
From time to time, you should revisit your documents, review your beneficiaries and seek professional advice about whether your situation suggests different or additional estate planning options. With your plan in place, you can offer your family the gift of security and peace of mind.