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4 Steps to Help With Estate Planning

Talking about estate planning and wealth transfer

As much as we’d like to avoid the thought of our loved ones passing away, setting up a plan for transferring wealth is an important way to make sure our loved ones’ wishes are honored. It’s a tough conversation, but you’ll both feel so much better when you can cross this task off your list and get back to enjoying quality time together while you still can.

Whether you’re setting up your own estate plans or working with a family member on theirs, here’s a checklist to help you navigate the transfer of wealth.

  1. Create a Loved Ones List
    To get started, work together to create a list of your family members and loved ones that should inherit your wealth and valuable belongings. You may also want to consider when those people should receive their inheritance. For example, in the event that children are still under 18, you can stipulate that they reach the age of 25 before having access to their inheritance. These are all things you can specify during the estate planning process.
  2. Inventory Assets and Liabilities
    Next, start an inventory of your or your loved one’s assets, which could include things like bank accounts, investments, real estate property, life insurance plans, personal property and safe deposit boxes. Document any important information about these assets, including their location, account details and approximate value. Another thing to think about is liabilities, such as mortgage payments or debt. That way, you can be sure that your family is aware of any payments still owed, and there won’t be any unpleasant surprises down the road.
  3. Talk to the Experts
    With these details compiled, you’ll be ready to meet with a financial advisor and estate planning attorney. They will review assets and liabilities with you, so you can create a detailed wealth transfer plan. On top of setting up a will, these estate planning experts can also advise you on whether or not to set up a trust. A trust is an arrangement that allows a third party — usually a financial institution — to hold onto a person’s assets until the time beneficiaries are to receive them.
  4. Tackle the Paperwork
    After you’ve established the will, you can work with your financial advisor and estate planning attorney to get legal documents in order. Now’s the time to make sure the following materials are up to date:
    • Insurance Policy Beneficiaries: the person or people who will receive any life insurance payouts
    • Power of Attorney: the person who becomes legally authorized to represent another person’s wishes if they become unable to do so
    • Healthcare Proxy: the person who can make healthcare decisions on someone’s behalf after they’re no longer able to
    • Organ Donor Form: a person’s written wishes to donate organs once they’ve passed away

Wealth transfer can be a tricky situation to manage, but ultimately it’s all about ensuring that a loved one’s last wishes are honored and their finances can be transitioned smoothly. To help make sure the transition goes as designed, be sure to let the places that hold your assets know what your plans are, too.

If you or a loved one is preparing for a transfer of wealth, know that we’re here to answer questions.