No one likes death or thinking about their own mortality. OK, maybe the undertaker, but for the rest of us, it’s creepy. Estate planning can make people uneasy because it deals with death. But it can give loved ones peace of mind.
Some of the elements of final planning are described below.
In the article, “A Will Can Be a Beautiful Thing,” Kiplinger’s advises that the initial step in estate planning is creating a will. A recent survey found that 64% percent of American adults don't have a will. They either decided they didn't need one or they have just kept putting it off. A will instructs who you want to inherit your assets. It’s also used to let parents name a guardian to care for their minor children. Without a will, all of your estate may wind up in probate court. One option of an estate plan is a living trust. A trust transfers assets from the trust to beneficiaries without having to go through the probate process.
Here are a few other reminders about estate plans:
Spell Out Your Decisions on End-of-Life Care. Tell loved ones your wishes in the event that you are unable to make medical decisions for yourself. This includes life support, sustenance and pain treatment, as well as organ donation. A living will also contains a health care declaration with a power of attorney designating the agent you name to ensure that your medical instructions are executed.
Check Your Beneficiaries. Fill out each of the beneficiary designations for your bank accounts, brokerage accounts and life insurance policies. You should specify both your primary and contingent beneficiaries.
Document Your Funeral Wishes. Specify whether you want to be buried or cremated. You can also list favorite music or scriptures for your end-of-life celebration or funeral. You should also note if you’re a veteran and whether you have funds put aside for funeral expenses.
Other Thoughts. Keep real estate and car deeds, wills, trusts, insurance policies, retirement benefits, 401(k), and IRA documents in a safe location. But make sure to tell the executor of your estate where these items are kept.
If you are married, don’t draft a joint will. This is because it is unlikely that you’ll pass away at the same time. Separate wills for each spouse can address other personal circumstances, like previous marriages, other children and charitable causes.
Don’t think of estate planning as creepy. Think of how it protects your family.
Reference: Kiplinger’s (April 2017) “A Will Can Be a Beautiful Thing”