Making sure your loved ones are taken care of after your death should be a priority, but for many it’s a tough topic to breach. The easy answer, of course, is to create an Estate Plan with an attorney that can help you every step of the way.
To get you started, here are some do’s and don’ts to follow as you consider creating an Estate Plan.
- Don’t let finances dictate whether you should create an Estate Plan or not. Yes, there are some up-front fees, but the investment is worth it when it comes to the future of your family. Depending on the type of plan you choose, you could save your estate thousands of dollars in the long run.
- Don’t assume your children will know what to do with your estate when you are gone. Emotions run high after a death, and not having a plan in place can create chaos and hurt feelings.
- Do consult with an attorney if you wish to make changes to your Estate Plan. This can ensure it is done properly and in accordance with the statutes.
- Do notify beneficiaries, such as children, spouse, and friends. It’s important they know their part. And make sure your executor has access to the needed documents in the event of your death.
- Do review your Estate Plan periodically, at a minimum every 2 to 3 years. Life changes may dictate changes in the plan sooner than every 2 to 3 years. A birth, death of a spouse or significant person who is part of your estate plan, change in marital status, change of address, or changes in property value or investments could prompt a change.
- Don’t assume that your spouse will handle everything if you are incapacitated. They may also be incapacitated. A good Estate Plan should appoint alternate representatives in this case.
- Do consider using different people as your financial and health Powers of Attorney. Using the same person for both can give them an incredible amount of decision-making power. It may be best to split up the decision-making process depending on your situation.
- And, of course, DO consult with an Estate Planning attorney. Trying to “do it yourself” could lead to bad results if important steps are skipped. It could also cause you to have no estate plan at all, which would be disastrous.
While breaching the topic of death with loved ones can be difficult, discussing an Estate Plan earlier than later can not only guarantee they are taken care of after your death, but it can also give great peace of mind for all involved.