Estate planning is one of the financial “to do’s” that seems to stay at the bottom of people’s list for a long time - but it shouldn’t! Putting together an estate plan is something everyone should should be doing as soon as possible.
But what exactly is an estate plan? And what action items should be at the top of your estate planning to do list?
What Is An Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a combination of documents that help you manage your assets in the event that you pass away or become medically incapacitated. These worst-case-scenarios aren’t fun to think about, but putting a plan in place can help your loved ones know how you’d like your assets divided and dealt with, what kind of medical decisions are important to you if you’re unable to communicate them, and more.
Estate planning is a proactive way to clear up confusion and make an already difficult time easier on your loved ones. It also is an excellent way for you to start planning for the legacy you want to leave behind.
Creating an estate planning to do list can be a daunting task if you don’t know where to start. Let’s go over four key estate planning action items that you can prioritize to get the ball rolling.
Your first priority should be to create a will and testament in the event of your death. This helps to outline what your legal team or family will do with your assets. You should also consider creating a living will. A living will outlines your medical treatment preferences in case you become unable to provide consent or a clear directive.
#2: Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is intended to appoint a person (often a spouse or adult children) to manage your affairs when you become unable to do so. Your power of attorney typically focuses on the financial aspect of your life - managing real estate after you pass away, making business transactions, buying life insurance, helping to settle claims, and more. However, you should also consider a health care power of attorney. This person will be able to make key decisions about your medical treatment and care in the event that you can’t communicate your preferences.
This is a straightforward “to do” - but many people fail to update their beneficiaries before they pass away. This can cause legal complications, tension between family members, and can hurt your loved ones even if you never intended to do so. Go through your life insurance, financial plans, bank accounts, and any other assets you have to make sure your beneficiaries are updated. If you’ve listed your spouse as your beneficiary, make sure to have a secondary beneficiary listed as a failsafe.
#4: Meet with a Professional
At Wisely Advised, we always recommend that you speak with a professional attorney about putting together your estate plan. While many people choose to go the DIY-route, it’s always best to consult a professional when it comes to how you want your assets handled. A professional will be able to make sure that your estate plan is airtight, and can also act as a single point-of-contact for loved ones should something happen to you.
An estate plan is a critical component of any comprehensive financial strategy. A financial planner can help you put together your estate plan, or refer you to an attorney who meets your unique needs. Contact Wisely Advised today to learn more.
Tony Velasquez is the Founder and Managing Director of Wisely Advised an Illinois Registered Investment Advisor. Wisely Advised provides comprehensive financial planning and investment advisory services to both individual and business clients. You can learn more about Tony and his firm here.
Tony Velasquez runs Wisely Advised, LLC a full-service Registered Investment Advisory Firm offering comprehensive financial planning and investment advisory services to individuals, families, and businesses.
Whether it's traveling, being at the beach, or at his family's ranch in Texas, Tony loves enjoying time with his family and friends.