Did you see the movie “Bucket List”? The concept is basically that you have a list of things to accomplish before you kick the proverbial bucket. One of the best things you can do for your heirs is to complete your estate planning “bucket list” during your lifetime. But this goes beyond wills and trusts. Here are some other items for your checklist, most of which you can do yourself (or with your spouse and/or family) without the assistance of a professional. These include:
(1) Take inventory of tangible assets. This should include items inside and outside of your home(s). Anything worth $100 or more should be included. A video inventory or at least photographs of valuables is strongly advised.
(2) Take inventory of your life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other non-tangible assets you may have that will affect your estate planning.
(3) List your debts, starting with mortgages and car notes, then credit card debt, other loans, etc. The list should include anything that you would owe if you died today.
(4) Make a list of any charitable organizations you support and any regular contributions you make to them and whether your estate planning advisors should continue these gifts after your death.
(5) Meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure that your estate is set up to handle everything on your lists to maximize its value.
(6) Discuss these items with the people who will handle your estate, e.g., executors, trustees, etc., to make sure that they understand the items on the lists and that they know your wishes about how to handle them.
Taking these important estate planning steps before you die can save you and your heirs time, money and effort. Once these steps are accomplished, you can relax and focus on skydiving or running with the bulls or whatever you have on your other bucket list.
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