Estate planning is typically not an activity that people look forward to. After all, none of us really want to think about our own mortality. Nonetheless, it’s an extremely important step that we all need to take in order to protect our surviving family members and loved ones. If you follow and apply these six basic steps, the task of putting an effective estate plan in place will be a whole lot less burdensome.
Step 1: Define your Estate Planning Goals:
- What do you wish to have happen after your death?
- How are your assets to be distributed? Family members, friends, charities, etc.?
- Who will be in charge of handling the administration of your estate?
- Do you have any concerns about privacy or potential family members fighting as it relates to your estate?
- Do you know what the inheritance tax or estate tax ramifications will be?
Step 2: Gather and Organize your Financial Data:
- Make sure all your financial information and documentation is organized and will be easily located
- Make an assessment of your approximate net worth
- Review and determine who you’d like to include as heirs and/or beneficiaries of your estate
- Determine how your property and other assets are presently titled
Step 3: Analyze & Discuss:
- Engage professional advisor or estate planning attorney
- Do-it-Yourself estate planning is typically not a real good idea
- Flowchart or make a spreadsheet of what your current existing estate plan looks like
Step 4: Develop your Estate Strategies:
- What estate planning strategies are best for your circumstances?
- Remember, every family’s estate planning needs are different
- Build an estate plan that best addresses your particular needs and desires
Step 5: Implement your Estate Plan:
- Draft, review, revise and edit, and then sign and implement your estate planning documents
- Make sure that the titling of your property and other assets follow and are in accord with your actual estate plan
- Make sure your beneficiary designations follow and are in accord with your estate plan
- Determine where your estate planning documents will be located and make sure the individual who you have designated to handle your estate knows where your documents can be found
Step 6: Track & Monitor your Progress:
- Check your estate plan annually or at least every couple of years to make sure that it still expresses your wishes and intentions and that it is up to date with any changes in your family’s circumstances
By working through these six basic steps, you’ll take a lot of the stress, frustration and anxiety out of the whole estate planning process. At American Wills & Estates we have been addressing the estate planning needs of our clients throughout Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania with competency, compassion and care for over 25 years. Want to learn more about better estate planning? Give us a call today at (412) 381-7370 to schedule your free estate planning legal consultation or our law firm online at www.americanwillsandestates.com.