Estate planning goes well beyond just creating a will, designating beneficiaries and throwing your property into a living trust. There are behind the scenes items that you must take care of to ensure your estate plan is relevant and accurate.
1. Inventory Physical Items – Go through your home, properties and even storage lockers to inventory all physical items associated with your estate. This can include televisions, jewelry, furniture, collectibles and vehicles. Write down whether or not these items are still financed too.
2. Non-Physical Inventory – Next you need to inventory all non-physical assets. These can include your bank accounts, digital accounts, retirement funds, life insurance policies and home insurance policies.
3. Credit and Debt Lists – A separate inventory should be made that lists (in detail) who you owe, how much you owe and the terms of what you owe. Run a credit report to make sure you haven’t missed any debts. Include revolving and fixed debts that include home equity loans, mortgages, credit cards, personal loans and auto loans.
4. Make a Copy of Your Lists – Once your inventories are complete, make copies and give them to your estate administrator and your estate planning professional. Keep a copy for yourself in a safe deposit box.
5. Update Beneficiaries – Check all of your accounts that have beneficiary designations – such as life insurance policies, bank accounts and retirement accounts. Write down who is named the beneficiary of these accounts and make any adjustments where needed.
6. Name a Responsible Party for Your Estate – Your estate administrator needs to be someone you trust and someone who is responsible enough to carry out your wishes. While you think a spouse is the best selection, keep in mind your spouse will have other responsibilities -such as caring for your children – after you pass. Therefore, give the responsibility to someone who is able to manage your estate and your wishes without any distractions.
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