Estate planning may sound like a task reserved only for millionaires and billionaires, but in reality, an estate plan is essential for any tax paying citizen who has assets that need to be protected. Studies show that only 42 percent of Americans have an estate plan in place, but with more awareness on the importance of having a plan in place, financial experts hope that more people will consider the seriousness of estate planning.
If you don’t have an estate plan and don’t know where to begin, here are a few helpful tips to get you on the right track:
Find a trustworthy attorney.
Because an estate plan involves legal documents, working with an experienced and trustworthy attorney who specializes in estate planning is key to ensuring your plan is secure and in line with your needs and desires. A good, trustworthy attorney can listen to what you want in an estate plan, and translate those needs into legal forms that will keep your assets protected.
Include your immediate family in your estate planning process.
When you create an estate plan, a big part of that includes determining who inherits what, and just making sure your assets have somewhere to go upon your death. One important aspect to discuss might include beneficiary designations for your bank account and retirement savings. You can also include your family in discussions regarding what goals you want to achieve with your estate plan; for instance, some people include charities and nonprofits in their estate plan, as they wish for a portion of their financial assets to support them.
Keep your plan and all documents updated.
Life has a way of bringing about change, whether it’s the birth of a new family member, a remarriage, a divorce, or even a change in your financial status. Keeping your estate plan and all associated documents updated to reflect your current reality will save your heirs significant stress in case of unexpected death or injury.