For those without children or close family, it can be difficult to choose who will handle your affairs, let alone who will inherit your estate when you die. The most common concern for many, is who should be trusted with important decisions, should you become incapacitated.
The Green Bay Press-Gazette says in its recent article, “Intimidated by estate planning? Here are key first steps,” that not knowing the precise way to draft an estate plan may lead you to do nothing.
Remember, if you die intestate, or without a will in place, your assets and property will be disbursed according to state statutes by the probate court. This may result in leaving your estate in limbo, transferring it to relatives you hardly know, or giving a big chunk in probate costs to the state.
While estate planning can raise difficult questions—for those with and without children—there are four key topics that need your immediate attention.
Estate Executor. Select an executor for your estate. It doesn’t have to be a family member or friend. Many lawyers, banks, and other planning professionals can be named to carry out your wishes.
Living Will. A living will is a document that states your wishes, in the event you become incapacitated, placed on life support or suffer from a terminal condition.
Designate Your Agents. Name a health care proxy or power of attorney who is tasked with making decisions about your health in situations that aren’t covered by your living will.
Update Beneficiaries. Be sure you designate and keep current your named beneficiaries for your 401(k) plans and life insurance policies. These assets aren’t tied to your will, so you need to be clear on your directions for these proceeds.
These are crucial first steps to making certain your estate is passed on the way you want. Review your options regularly to ensure that everything is accurate.
Reference: Green Bay Press-Gazette (January 17, 2018) “Intimidated by estate planning? Here are key first steps”