5 Tips For Beginning Your Estate Plan

Posted by: Brookside Admin

Estate planning concept

Almost two-thirds of adult Americans are without a will or any type of estate planning. That leaves a lot of things up in the air that may potentially need to be settled by the courts. Don't leave behind uncertainty. Ensure your assets are handled correctly, and your family or business partner get the documents and and other items they require. To get started on estate planning, here are some basic tips. 

Start Now

Much like saving for retirement, estate planning is best started as soon as possible. While you might think estate planning isn't necessary until you're near retirement, the reality is that having a plan in place is significantly beneficial regardless of your age and financial status. Create your estate plan now to ensure your family is taken care should something happen to you. Then, as your wealth and family grows over time, be sure to periodically update your estate plan. 

Identify Who's Who

Before even deciding on specific assets to include in your plan, you'll want to list who needs to be included. This can include specific family members, friends, and business associates. If you own your own business, this is especially important as part of succession planning. As you identify key people, start to assign them roles. For example, who will be handling vital paperwork, who is eligible to be a beneficiary on key accounts and so on. 

Qualify Estate Items

To accurately form your estate plan, you'll need to assess all valuable items. That includes real estate, including your personal residence, entities like businesses you own, insurance premiums, and investment accounts. Your first step is to list out all of these assets, then start breaking them down into categories. This will make it easier to ensure that the correct items are assigned to the correct person. 

Be Detailed and Specific

Remember that your estate plan will be used when you're not around to give additional instructions. With that in mind, be sure to provide more detail than is necessary to specify the items and people involved. That includes more than just describing the item in question. It means describing the location of items and documents, instructions on how to access accounts, or combinations to locks and safes, and even URLs of online accounts. You'll also want to include contingencies and additional instructions, which might include whether or not an item can be sold, or if it should be given to an individual at a certain age or time. 

Share Your Plan

Finally, it's important that you don't keep your estate plan a secret. Doing so introduces the risk that no one can find it when it's needed. Share copies of your plan with relatives, and with your business partner. It's even OK to go through it with them. They might provide valuable feedback that helps you improve your estate plan, or they might simply be more prepared to carry it through. 

While estate planning can seem daunting, you don't have to do it alone. Contact the experts at Brown Kinion and Company for help understanding your legal and financial rights concerning estate planning