For some, “estate planning” means sitting in an attorney’s office for hours going through complex legal issues. Others view it simply as preparing a will. The reality is it includes a financial accounting of your assets and what you would like to see happen to them upon your death. This can include a solid legal and accounting strategy along with the last will. Here are what you should know and the steps that should be taken in estate planning:
Prepare a List of Assets and Debts
If you manage your bills through a monthly budget and know your net worth, you are already almost there. Complete a list of all of your assets, financial and physical (money, cars, property) and debts (credit cards, loans, mortgages, etc). Subtracting debts from assets will give you your net worth. Be sure to list items like retirement accounts and the cash value of any insurance policies. Be sure to list valuable physical assets like vehicles, jewelry, antiques, and collectibles.
You may belong to multiple organizations ranging from civic and veterans groups, AARP, AAA, or college alumni groups, which may feature benefits to a beneficiary upon your death. List any such memberships and beneficiaries, making sure the list is updated and the beneficiary contact list is current. You may also want to make sure online assets, usernames, and passwords are accounted for.
Assign Transfer Upon Death Designations
Many assets go through probate unnecessarily, creating costly and time-consuming delays. Many accounts, like savings, checking and brokerage accounts may be transferred quickly and easily through a transfer upon death designation to a beneficiary.
Choose an Estate Administrator You Trust
This is usually a spouse or responsible family member who you have confidence will dispose of your assets reasonably and fairly and according to your wishes.
Draft Your Will
This will designate specific instructions about how certain assets will be handled, including who may be left certain specific items of importance to you or to them.
Consult With an Expert
Consulting with an estate planner and/or attorney can help you polish off an estate plan to maximize your assets and minimize hassles for those left behind.
Of course, financing your final arrangements can also be a part of your estate plan. If you would like some guidance in this area, please feel free to contact us. Pre-planning final arrangements can be a significant gift to loved ones left behind and is certainly worth considering.
At Fares J. Radel, we have been helping generations of Cincinnati area families through challenging times for decades. We would be honored to assist you.