Statistics show that a majority of Americans avoid the conversation about death and money and fail to prepare a will. This is unfortunate because strategic planning and open communications are the keys to successful legacy planning. Regardless of your wealth, there are certain key items that one should consider.
In planning anything, the best place to begin is at the end. What outcome do you want? How do you want the story to end?
Draft Legal Documents
If you do not already have your key documents, work with an attorney to have these drafted. These may include a will, health care proxy, and durable power of attorney. Your tax advisor can help you with any associated tax issues.
Don’t Forget About Digital Assets
Today, many individuals have digital assets like cell phones, online bill payment systems, Facebook accounts, financial institution login information, personal address books and records, and family photos that one should include in estate plans, so these valuable memories, documents, and accounts can be located and accessed. This is a newer area for the legal system, so the laws can vary by state.
Review Beneficiary and transfer on death designations
Do your beneficiary and TOD designations reflect your wishes?
Understand the Probate Process
Do you understand the probate process and how it will impact your estate?
Communicate Your Wishes
You should communicate to your financial institutions who you have designated as your trusted contact. You should also notify your trusted contact that they have been so named. You should consider whether to share information ahead of time with this trusted contact.
The Conversation Project offers some great resources for those looking to Start The Conversation. Below is a link to a helpful starter toolkit.