If much of your time during the past several years has been spent focused on building your career, estate planning may have escaped your notice.
Everyone needs a viable estate plan, and if the time has come for you to consider yours, here are five tips to help you prepare for a meeting with your attorney.
Put together your financial information
Start your preparation by organizing your assets and debts into a list or even a spreadsheet to give to your attorney. Include your home and any other real property along with titled property, such as your automobile or boat. Add in your bank accounts, investment information, retirement accounts, any partnership interests and valuables like jewelry or your fine art collection. Also list debts, such as credit cards, lines of credit or personal loans.
Prepare a list of beneficiaries
Who do you want to inherit your assets? Along with your spouse and children, you might name your niece, your grandchildren and your brother, who has special needs. You might also want to name a favorite charity, church or your alma mater.
Choose your executor
Your estate plan will include your will, and in that document, you can name your executor. Your initial thoughts might be your spouse or your adult son, but neither may want to assume the role. You need someone young enough to survive you, someone trustworthy who will also use common sense in serving as your chief administrator and who you are confident will carry out your final wishes.
Select a healthcare administrator
Just as you would choose a trustworthy individual to be your executor, you should also give consideration to naming someone who will act on your behalf if you should fall seriously ill or become incapacitated. Your attorney will bring you up to speed on the subject of healthcare directives.
Address changing circumstances
Finally, keep in mind that circumstances constantly change as we go through life. There are marriages, divorces, new children born and relatives who pass away. Part of your estate planning preparation will be making note of the need to revisit your plan from time to time and to make any updates required.