Worried about your estate? This estate management checklist can help.
Eventually, you will have to leave your hard-earned assets to those you love. While this can seem like a scary process, with the right preparation, managing your estate can be more seamless than you might think. Use this checklist to help prepare your estate, and beneficiaries, for the future.
Set a Will
Your will is used to distribute your property in the future after your passing. Because this is a legal document, a will generally takes precedence over other documents, and is therefore an important part of managing your estate. In your will, you can outline your wishes for your property and your heirs, as well as assign an executor to carry these instructions out as per your wishes.
Drafting a will doesn’t necessarily have to be complicated, but it can help to utilize the expertise of a trusted legal and/or financial professional.
Draft a letter of instruction
If you want to leave your loved ones in good hands after you pass, a letter of instruction can certainly help. This letter can include everything to instruct your loved ones on how to access important information, burial instructions, a summary of your assets and debts, location of valuable items, and more. No, a letter of instruction isn’t necessarily a legal document, but it can be helpful and make the process of moving forward easier for all those involved.
Make documents easily accessible
Your estate is a complex organism, and when it comes time for your heirs to sort through your estate, you’ll want to make it as easy for them as possible.
Consider keeping these documents in an easily accessible place:
- Trust documents
- Life insurance policies
- Real estate deeds
- Retirement plan information
- Debt information (credit cards, mortgage, loans, etc.)
File beneficiary forms
In case you don’t remember, your beneficiaries are the people in line to receive your assets upon your death. By filing your beneficiary forms, you can help ensure that your assets, whether it is your house, investment portfolios, etc., are left to the people of your choosing. Even if you have a letter of instruction stating otherwise, the stated beneficiaries on your accounts will still take precedence.
Depending on the account, you may need to fill out a form or designated who is “Payable on Death”.
Start a businesses succession plan
If you’re a business owner, having a succession plan in place will make the transition to the new business owner seamless. The last thing you want is the ownership and management of your business to be in question after you pass. Consider putting together a succession plan and informing the applicable parties of their role in the future of your business.
Act now so you can relax later
Retirement is all about relaxing. But can you really relax before you’ve handled your estate? If you take care of your estate management checklist, you’ll likely feel better about your family and loved ones being taken care of when the time comes.