“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” –
When to Start
As long as you are a legal adult, you may begin creating your estate plan at any time. Many make the mistake of believing there is a right time or situation that will provoke them to begin creating estate planning documents. The truth is, it is much more likely to approach the matter too late. Life is full of unexpected occurrences; A solid estate plan can offer you peace of mind, especially when it is in place ahead of time. The following information serves as a road map to illustrate the estate planning process.
Organizing and safely storing documents is an essential (and often overlooked) starting point when it comes to estate planning. In doing so, you are setting yourself up for success in several ways. Keeping an accurate record of important documents makes it much easier to list assets, prove ownership, and legitimize your beneficiary designations. Once your estate planning documents are created, it will allow you and your loved ones to access them, either in the event that you update them, or in the event that they are needed in an emergency situation.
Prepare for Estate Planning Consultation
While it is possible to create an estate plan without outside aid, many opt for a helping hand, which can greatly facilitate the process and reduce the margin for error. If seeking assistance from an estate planning professional, you may be required to complete a preliminary questionnaire. You might also need to provide them with documents pertaining to asset ownership, marriage status, existing trust funds, financial documents and balances in financial accounts. Additionally, come prepared with questions and concerns that you would like to address during the consultation.
Expect Future Revisions
As you experience major life changes, it is completely natural to have a shift in opinion regarding the distribution of your estate, your beneficiary designations, and even medical preferences listed in an Advance Directive document. With rare exceptions (for example, with an irrevocable trust) it is possible to change the terms of your estate planning documents. Common reasons for updating an estate plan include marriage, death of a spouse or beneficiary, childbirth, and acquisition of new assets.
When revising your estate plan, consider (and reconsider) your estate planning goals. What do you wish to leave your loved ones when you are no longer around? Difficult as it may be, this question is key to crafting a thorough, complete, and considerate estate plan.