Practically no one wants to think about their own death, yet planning for it now will make it much easier on your loved ones.
Make sure your wishes are carried out, that your loved ones are taken care of, and that the charities you care about can continue to do good work. Whether you have a plan or not, here are a few thoughts on how to get started.
1. Take Inventory
- What do you own? Property? Bank Accounts? Stock/Securities? Retirement Accounts?
- Do you have a will? Is your will up to date?
- Who is important in your life? Spouse? Children/grandchildren?
- Are there certain charities that you care about?
2. Set Goals
- What would you like to accomplish?
- What do you want for your loved ones?
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
3. Create or Change Plan based on Goals
- Write or update your will with an estate planning attorney, preferably someone local who understands state laws.
- Designate an executor if you don’t already have one. This is a big job and requires someone who is trustworthy, capable and has the time, skills and desire to do the job.
- Review and update your beneficiary designations of bank accounts, insurance policies and retirement accounts.
- If you own real estate or other property held jointly with someone else, make sure that their name is also on the deed or title, and that everything is in order for a smooth transfer to the survivor.
- Do you own stock, securities or other assets that you prefer to pass directly to someone or to a charity? Be sure to complete the proper paperwork called “transfer on death.”
- Specify if there are personal items (like family heirlooms, art or jewelry) that you want specific people or charities to have.
- Is there someone for whom you would like to leave money, but worry that a windfall might not be in their best interest (for instance the person is too young or has a tendency to poorly manage their money)?
- Consider a trust or special annuity which stipulates how your heir receives money.