As you make your 2020 New Year’s resolutions, it may be the perfect time to include estate planning on that list. Since procrastination seems to be a major barrier to having an estate plan, this is one way to make it a top priority for the year.
If it seems like an overwhelming task, there is a way to break it down into smaller steps, some that can be taken even before you make an appointment with an estate planning attorney. This way you can make steady progress toward having a complete estate plan in place.
Here are some suggested estate planning resolutions:
Do a complete review of all your assets, real property, accounts and valuables. Putting together a list of all of these will help to organize your thoughts about what you actually have to include in your will or trust.
Offer to fund a ‘family’ advance health care directive or ‘living will’, where you, your spouse and children over 18 can all make decisions about their own health care decisions through an individual living will. This has the added benefit of discussing values and preferences around end of life care and treatment.
Have a family discussion about potential distribution of assets and how that would be handled with multiple beneficiaries. Sometimes your heirs might have preferences or not want to have to deal with some types of property or assets.
Evaluate which assets already have direct beneficiary designations that would not be included in an estate plan. For example, life insurance policies or other accounts that may be dated and need to have the beneficiary designations added or changed.
Research potential estate planning attorneys and their qualifications so that you can find the best fit for your family’s planning needs. Prepare some questions for an initial phone call so that you can make some comparisons based on experience, specialty and cost.
Once you have decided upon an attorney, make an initial appointment to discuss the various estate planning alternatives available and how to proceed.