Like many people, you have put off estate planning for years. You've finally decided to settle down and do it, but now you're not sure where to start. It all feels so overwhelming, especially as you deal with retirement and other such events.
To help you, here are a few early steps you can take:
- Make a comprehensive inventory of all of the physical items you own that you want to pass down to your heirs. These could be large items like boats, cars and homes, and they could be far smaller things like artwork, collections and furniture.
- Make a second inventory of the assets you control that are not physical. This could include your bank accounts, your life insurance policy, your pension plan and other financial assets.
- Make a third list, this time focusing on your debts. Consider things like credit card debt, mortgage payments, property taxes, business debt and more.
- Check to make sure all of your accounts have been updated properly. For instance, people sometimes forget to update the beneficiary on a life insurance policy.
- Decide exactly who you want to name in the estate plan. You can be flexible with this list, but it pays to start planning early to decide how to split things up -- and so that you do not forget anyone.
- Figure out who you want to name as the estate administrator. This is a big responsibility, so you probably want to talk with them to make sure they're up for it.
This list can help you get started, but it's critical to take the time to look into all of your legal options.