Summary: Siedentopf Law suggests some ways to get organized and begin working on your estate plan. Those include setting up a secure filing system, consulting with an estate planning attorney, updating beneficiary designations, and discussing your estate plans with your family members.
Spring is finally here! As you plan your seasonal organizing and cleaning projects, now is also a great time to begin working on your estate plan. Siedentopf Law has a few suggestions on how to get started.
Set up a secure filing system. Collecting all of your important documents in one safe place will help streamline the estate planning process. It can also help avoid confusion and stress down the line, if and when your family needs to access any of the paperwork. The types of documents you should keep organized and secure include: birth certificates, social security cards, property deeds, marriage licenses, divorce decrees, and military discharge papers. You can also prepare a list of bank accounts as well as the contact information of your accountant or insurance agent. Once you have set up your secure filing system, it is a good idea to let your family and estate executor know where the files are located and how to access them.
Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney. When it comes to estate planning and probate, there are a number of do-it-yourself options available online; however, the risks associated with these forms outweigh the benefits. Hiring an attorney at the start of your estate planning process can help avoid expensive mistakes and future legal disputes. An estate planning attorney can talk to you about your state’s specific estate planning laws and how they apply to you. The consultations can also cover guardianship, medical preferences, asset protection, selecting an estate executor, as well as spotting potential probate and tax planning issues. For more information, read our blog on the importance of hiring an estate planning attorney.
Make sure your beneficiary designations are up to date. A beneficiary designation provides a mechanism for the transfer of assets. Designations can often be found on life insurance policies, annuities, IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement accounts. The person creating the account or policy can identify a beneficiary, and after he or she passes away, the account assets will be paid directly to the named beneficiary. If you already have these beneficiary designations in place, you should check those documents periodically to make sure they reflect your current family structure and wishes. For more, read our blog on the importance of updating your beneficiary designations.
Discuss your estate plans with your family. In addition to gathering important documents and developing an estate plan, it is also important to let your family know about your wishes. A Letter of Instruction can provide your beneficiaries with information about the location and transfer of your assets, or it can provide them with information that can be critical in the event of an emergency. You can also follow-up your estate planning with an in-person discussion with your family and beneficiaries. The topic of your final wishes may seem awkward at first, but remember, you are creating an estate plan to ensure that the succession process is as easy and stress-free as possible for your family. For more, you can read our blog on how to approach the topic of estate planning with your family.
These are just a few of the estate planning items you can add to your list of spring projects. For more information, or to set up an estate planning consultation, visit the Siedentopf Law website at EstateLawAtlanta.com or call us today at (404) 736 – 6066.
© Sarah Siedentopf and Siedentopf Law, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Siedentopf Law and EstateLawAtlanta.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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