Estate planning is a task that we tend to avoid, but it needs our focus. This checklist can help ensure you don’t miss any key steps.
While every estate is different, it's helpful to have a step-by-step guide to take you through what can often be a confusing planning process. Following a guide can help ensure you do things in the right order and don't forget any important parts.
Don't let procrastination be an enemy. If you haven't already created an estate plan, consider starting now. If you have an estate plan but it's been a while since you last looked at it, remember that a lot can change over the years, both in your own life circumstances and due to evolving laws and regulations. Put aside a few hours and start working through the process to determine what’s most important to you as you make your estate plan. Use these 5 tips from Amy Motylewski, senior specialist of retirement and 529 products for TD Ameritrade, to help walk you through the estate planning process.
If you have questions along the way, mark them down and consider reaching out to an attorney or tax advisor who can offer more help.
If an item is important to you and you want to ensure it’s passed down correctly, include it in your list and indicate which recipients should get which assets. Some of these items may include:
An attorney or tax advisor can help you create essential estate planning documents to ensure the items you included in your inventory are passed down as you wish. Some documents that will help you do this include:
If you’re concerned with your health and worried you won’t be able to make your own health care decisions, you may want to consult a lawyer and create a living will/advanced health care directive.
You may need to select a few key people to act on your behalf:
After you’ve created your estate plan, you need to keep it up-to-date as your wishes or laws change. Some things to always keep updated include:
As you think through the guide and take action, remember that your age is an important consideration. Although younger people may be less likely to put estate planning front and center, it can be important to get a head start.
“It depends on a person’s situation,” says Amy Motylewski. “If you’re younger but own a residence, you may want to make sure it’s handled properly. And if you have children, it’s even more important because you want to make sure those dependents are cared for properly.”
Although most people require help from professionals to set up an estate plan, many of the forms and documents are available online and can be completed without assistance. To help guide you as you set up your estate plan, refer to the Quick Start Guide to Estate Planning checklist.
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