Death or incapacitation can creep up on anyone, especially when they least expect it. The burden of handling an estate or financial affairs that can fall on your family may be extremely heavy, even more so if you didn’t leave them in a situation where they’re thoroughly prepared. So if you’re ready to get your affairs in order, here are a few quick bullet points to follow that will help make the process easier for everyone involved:
Create an Estate Plan
Creating an estate plan or updating your current estate plan is the most important thing you can do to get your affairs in order. An estate plan gives you the proper protections and documents in case you become incapacitated, such as a Power of Attorney, Advance Directive for Health Care (sometimes called a Living Will), or if you pass away, such as a Last Will and Testament and Revocable Living Trust.
Name Your Beneficiaries
All of your financial accounts and policies should have beneficiaries named on them. However, keep in mind that a court may have to get involved if your beneficiaries are underage. A guardian must be named for all underage beneficiaries to receive their assets, as the guardian must be in charge of the accounts. If you don’t name any beneficiaries, or if your beneficiaries predecease you, then those accounts will have to go into your probate estate. Your loved ones will have to prepare for a long, expensive process before the estate is settled.
Review Your Financial Accounts
Conduct reviews of all of your accounts to make sure they’re titled correctly, the right beneficiaries are named, and there are no issues with any of your accounts or policies. You can work with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine how often your accounts should be reviewed.
Protect Your Financial Assets
There are many strategies you can use to protect your assets in the event of a lawsuit, creditor, divorce, or if you need to enter a nursing home. Annuity planning, irrevocable trusts, and other forms of asset protection planning are available, and you can discuss these with an experienced estate planning lawyer.
Leave Your Information Where It Can Be Found
Talk to your loved ones about your plans! It’s critical that your loved ones can find and access your important documents if you pass away or become incapacitated. This will allow them to manage your finances and settle your estate, if needed. You may also want to leave a list of all your important passwords and online accounts.
If you would like to get more information about estate planning, or if you’d like to discuss your existing estate plan and how it matches up with your current situation, please contact us at (770) 693-2426 to set up a consultation.
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