Jasper L. Edwards
Most people think that an estate plan is the same as a will. The truth, however, is that there is much more to estate planning than just a will, although that is included. If you want to be completely sure that your assets are going to be distributed in the way you want them to be, thorough estate planning is essential, and having an estate planning checklist will help you get it right. Read on to find out more about what needs to be included on that checklist so everything goes according to plan after you pass away.
A will – or a trust – might feel like a complicated thing to deal with, and it might even feel as though if you don’t have much to pass on that it’s just not worth doing. The truth, however, is that everyone, no matter how much you might have (or not) needs to have a will, and in fact, the will is the main component of every estate plan. Wills can be very simple, and using a free online template is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure you include every one of your assets and you’re specific about who gets what.
Although the majority of your assets will be distributed through your will, there will be some that aren’t noted there – because they don’t have to be. This will include any insurances, as well as your 401(k). However, just because these are not going to be included in your will, you still need to make sure that the beneficiary designations are set up correctly. In most cases, this means naming the person who you want to receive the payout when you die.
If you have children under the age of 18, what would happen to them if you were to die? If there is another parent to take care of them, that’s one thing, but if you’re a single parent, or if you and your partner were to die at the same time, what then? This is why including guardianship details in your estate plan is important.
Again, the person or people you are naming as guardians should be made aware of this ahead of time; surprising someone with guardianship of a child or children when they are still grieving is a terrible shock and they would need a lot of time to prepare. If they’re not comfortable with the task, they can tell you when you ask them, helping you to decide on someone else.
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