Creating a will, assigning Power of Attorney (ies), and documenting all financials and responsibilities are the building blocks of an estate plan. However, even with a strong handle on all of these essentials, there are many critical components that can easily be forgotten.
1. Updating Your Plan
Creating a comprehensive estate plan is critical and using a tool like the Departing Details Workbook can help alleviate much of the stress. Once this is created, however, it is very easy to forget to update it. A good rule of thumb is that the estate plan is revised after any major life event, such as the birth of a child, the death of a spouse, or a divorce. Keeping your estate plan up to date ensures your wishes are adhered to and your loved ones are taken care of.
2. Leaving Adequate Liquid Assets
Closing an estate may come with some immediate costs, such as attorney fees, estate taxes, and funeral expenses. One of the main reasons for creating a comprehensive plan for your estate is to make it easier on your loved ones, so you want to ensure they aren’t stuck footing the bill. Leave enough of your assets liquid and easily accessible so that no one is on the hook for these foreseeable costs.
3. Considering Retirement Funds
As many individuals hold a large amount of retirement money in tax-sheltered funds, the resulting tax implications after death should be considered. Carefully choosing and naming a beneficiary for these funds is a must on your checklist to ensure that funds are transferred on a tax-deferred basis.
4. Creating a Trust…or Not
Setting up a trust for your assets is a great option if you want to attach specific instructions to an inheritance. If you have young children, for example, you can set up a trust with the stipulation that the inheritance is paid out at a certain age. Trusts can be expensive, however, and you may want to instead consider including instructions for assets within your will. It's recommended you seek professional legal advice when making decisions involving a trust.
5. Purchasing Life Insurance
If you have family that is dependent on you, life insurance is a critical component of your estate plan. With many options for insurance plans, the size of your estate and the stage you are at in life are both important to consider when purchasing.
As with every potentially overwhelming component of an estate plan, take each step one at a time. The Departing Details Workbook can walk you through each stage and give you peace of mind; get your copy now.