Anyone who has an estate should consider creating an estate plan. Beyond a will which states what you would like to have happen with your assets, an estate plan organizes and provides what is necessary to actually make those things happen.
What is included in my estate?
Yes. Your estate includes everything from bank accounts and retirement funds to jewelry and furniture you own. Beyond the more obvious cash, real estate, cars, and personal property, here are some items included in your estate that you may not have thought of:
- Securities and annuities
- Money that is owed to you
- Jointly held brokerage and bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance
In other words… YOU HAVE AN ESTATE.
Why is having an estate plan important?
Even if all you happen to leave behind is the $25 in your pocket, you could potentially be leaving with it a legacy of inconveniences to your survivors. Those close to you might be faced with legal battles, inter-family arguments, and worse if you don’t leave a plan behind. With an organized plan of action, your estate will be distributed according to your instructions rather than go through a court run process. Working with a financial advisor on an estate plan also ensures that taxes and expenses are minimized when transferring assets.
Where do I begin?
Estate planning is one area where you really should seek professional assistance. It is a complex process that should involve working with a financial planner who can best organize all of your assets as well as an estate planning attorney to prepare documentation. This can be a very personal experience so be sure to choose a professional who you are comfortable with. In addition, you can start to assess all of your holdings, accounts, and property as well as evaluate who you would like to leave these things behind to.
Click on the image below to download our Estate Planning 101 Checklist to help you organize all of your important documentation involved in planning your estate!