Estate planning can be intimidating. Most people don’t like to talk about death and taxes and studies show that about 55% of people die without a will or estate plan. That number is entirely too high and I suspect that is because many people don’t have a good idea of how to start the estate planning process.
Here are a few tips:
1. Don’t worry about talking about your death. We’re gonna spend more time talking about your life. And, unless you are really wealthy, you’ll be surprised at how little taxes will be discussed.
2. Estate planning is sort of like grocery shopping. There are some things you need, but many things that you don’t need. That’s where I come in…I will help you figure out what you need. I will help you make a grocery list. Once we have that, the process is much easier.
3. Identify your assets. Write down what you have and the approximate value of each asset. Don’t worry about getting exact values. Use Kelly Blue Book for a vehicle and the latest share price for stocks. Zillow.com works just fine for estimating the value of your home and remember that the value of your home is the estimated sales prices minus the mortgage.
4. Think about the people in your life that you would want to step into your place if you were to pass away. Who would be the guardians of your children? Who would make decisions for you if your spouse couldn’t? Who would you want to be in charge of a trust for your kids if you were gone? This step is crucial, especially if you are married. You’ll want to know before you meet with an attorney that you are either in agreement with your spouse or you don’t have agreement and need the advice of your estate planner.
5. Remember, the goal of estate planning is to not only protect your family but to get peace of mind. To resolve that nagging worry that your affairs are not in order or that you don’t have your “ducks in a row”. That’s the goal.