Estate Planning Checklist

Estate Planning Checklist

Posted by The Sterling Law Group on August 5th - Estate Administration

The concept of estate planning involves far more than just you writing a will. You will want to account for every one of your assets and wishes to ensure the execution of a set plan after your death, and you will want the help of a Roseville estate planning attorney from The Sterling Law Group.

Know that designating certain beneficiaries on your retirement accounts and completing a transfer on death (TOD) designations on other accounts can help keep your assets from passing under a will. Here are some examples of the types of things you are going to want to remember when developing your estate plan.

Itemizing an Inventory

Begin by making a complete list of all the items of value to you both inside and outside of your home. In addition to the home itself, you should also note valuable electronics, jewelry, certain collectibles, and motor vehicles.

Remember Your Non-Physical Assets

You may have a number of non-tangible assets such as brokerage accounts, 401(k) plans, individual retirement arrangements (IRAs), bank accounts, life insurance policies, and many other policies. Make sure to include all of the account numbers and list the locations of physical documents.

Compile Your List of Debts

You want to have another list that includes credit cards or other financial obligations you might have, including automobile loans, mortgages, and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Make sure to note all of your account numbers, locations of any signed agreements, and contact information for companies that hold the debts.

Identify Your Memberships

You should list any organizations you belong to because many such organizations could have accidental life insurance benefits for their members, which may mean money that your beneficiaries could be eligible to collect. You should also note any charitable organizations you support so your beneficiaries may donate to these causes in your memory.

Make Copies of These Lists

After you compile all four of these lists, date and sign them before making at least three copies. Give an original copy to your estate administrator, give a second copy to your spouse (or significant other) to place in a safe deposit box, and keep the final copy for yourself in some safe place.

Review the Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts and policies with designated beneficiaries automatically pass directly to the named people or entities upon your death, regardless of how you direct such accounts or policies to be distributed in your will or trust. You will have to contact your employer’s customer service team or plan administrator to get a current update on your beneficiary selection for each account, and you will want to ensure the beneficiaries are current and are the people you prefer.

Insurance Updates

Life insurance and annuities also pass directly to beneficiaries, so you again want to contact your life insurance company to guarantee that your named beneficiaries are the ones you want.

Name Your Transfer on Death Designations

Many assets will have to go through the probate process, but several accounts can be set up or amended to include a TOD designation. This will allow beneficiaries to receive assets without going through probate, saving your family time and money while also avoiding possible familial disputes.

Name Your Estate Administrator

An estate administrator or executor is the person who will be in charge of administering your will after you die. Many people presume their spouse will be the logical choice, but you need to consider their emotional state and how it could impact important decisions that will need to be made, so choose this person carefully.

Draft Your Will

You will cover the distribution of your assets, and it can also name a guardian for your minor children, designate who should care for your pets, and leave assets to charitable organizations. You want to be sure that you sign and date your will in front of two non-related witnesses who you also want to sign the document, and then have it notarized before letting other people know the location of the will if they need to access it.

Regularly Review All of Your Documents

Estate planning is not a one-time deal, as you are likely to experience a number of life-changing events such as marriage or divorce that can impact various aspects of to whom you want to bequeath your assets. Try to conduct reviews at least once every two years.

Keep Your Administrator in the Loop

After you finalize, sign, and notarize your will, get a copy to your estate administrator. When the original copy is not being stored in your home, you should still try to keep a copy of it somewhere in your home.

Speak to an Estate Attorney or Financial Planner

Always try to consult with a professional for a full investment and insurance plan. These parties will be knowledgeable concerning matters about legislation and income or estate tax laws that may impact your bequests.

Try to Simplify Your Finances

You could have multiple different 401(k) retirement plans or IRA accounts, and it may be in your best interest to consolidate all of these accounts into a single account. This will help provide for better investment choices, lower costs, a broader selection of investments, less paperwork, and simpler management.

Consider Other Documents

In addition to your will, also consider crafting a power of attorney, healthcare proxy, and living will.

Also Think About College Funding Accounts

You could benefit from a 529 college savings plan for grandchildren because these plans usually allow savings to grow tax-free and may also involve tax deductions.

Call to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Roseville Estate Planning Attorney

If you know that you need an estate plan or are simply looking for help revising an existing estate plan, you should not try to tackle everything on your own. The Sterling Law Group can provide unparalleled legal advice that will take into account all of your desires so we can confidently ensure that your wishes will be carried out upon your death.

Our firm represents clients in Roseville, Sacramento, and many other surrounding areas of California. You can call us at (916) 579-7695 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation that will allow us to take a much longer look at your case and discuss all of the options that are available to you.

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