Maybe you’ve been putting off your estate plan. You know you need to do it, but it seems like a daunting task, requiring you to think about your family’s future when you’re no longer around. Even so, the sooner you make your plan, the sooner you give yourself and your family peace of mind.
You also gain the satisfaction of knowing that your estate will go to the people you want it to, rather than leaving that up to the court. Keep in mind that you can also create documents to clarify your wishes regarding your medical care in the event that you become incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions. You can make your estate plan work best by creating the right documents for your specific circumstances, and by updating those documents when needed.
Using the right property distribution documents
Depending on your particular circumstances, a will may be enough to distribute your assets the way you want. However, you may need additional documents in order to achieve your estate planning goals. For example, creating a trust may be the best way to protect your interests and those of your heirs.
In any case, it’s important to explore all the available options to ensure that your heirs and beneficiaries receive the maximum benefit from your estate.
You can leave separate instructions
The fact is that most surviving family members will not even look at your will until after you’re gone. However, they need to know what your plans are if you become incapacitated. Drafting an instruction letter that you keep separate from your estate planning documents can provide valuable information your family needs, such as the following:
- The location of your estate planning documents, including your will
- Funeral preferences
- Contact information for your attorney, executor and/or trustee
- An inventory of your assets
- Health care directives
- Tax records
- Titles to your vehicles and real estate
- Location of any insurance policies, including long-term care and life policies
- Financial statements
- Relatives and friends you want contacted when the time comes
- Information on your mortgage, your credit cards, and other lenders and creditors
- Usernames and passwords for your digital assets and other online accounts
- Keys to safety deposit boxes
- Location of your passport, driver’s license and birth certificate
This list is not exhaustive. You can put into this instruction letter any information you want relayed to the right people immediately after your demise or incapacitation.
You don’t live your life in a bubble. Things change. Any major life event should prompt a review of your estate plan to make sure that it still meets your expectations, outlines your wishes and achieves your goals. Even if you do not experience any major changes, you still need to review your plan periodically to make sure you remain satisfied with its contents.