13-Step Estate Planning Checklist

If you have never considered estate planning, now is the time. You never know what tomorrow will bring. For that very reason – you must be prepared for the unimaginable.

Our estate planning checklist provides you with action steps you need to take now to ensure that your loved ones are protected if something should happen to you.

Think for a minute about all the ways you already protect your family. You have insurance for your home, car, and health. Perhaps you also have a life insurance policy in place to provide for their needs.

Now you need to plan for what the future would look like without you, as hard as that may be. Whether you have millions in stocks, funds, and bank accounts, or just a few pieces of jewelry you wish to pass on, you need to get it all in writing.

What happens if you do not preplan for the unexpected?

Anything you have could end up in the wrong hands through intestacy. What is intestacy? Intestate distribution occurs when you do not have a will stipulating where your property will go at the time of your death. At that time, the court will appoint an executor of estate, and all your assets could be frozen by the court until the case is settled. Estate planning is crucial to protect your loved ones.

Your 13-Step Estate Planning Checklist

Our 13-step estate planning checklist will help you get all your affairs in order – long before you need to worry about them.

  1. Will – this legal document details the beneficiaries of your property and assets. A Will also directs who you wish to care for your children in the event neither parent is alive.
  2. Living Will – here you make the decision ahead of time what life-saving measures you agree to implement should you become incapacitated. The living will states your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures when you cannot speak on your behalf. You may also want a “do not resuscitate (DNR) form if you do not want cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops beating or you are not breathing.
  3. Designation of Health Care Surrogate – as with the living will, this document provides for a situation when you cannot state your own You will name the person or persons who will make your healthcare decisions on your behalf.
  4. Beneficiary Designations – although you may have already provided beneficiary names on your bank accounts, IRAs, 401 (k) plans, and life insurance policies, situations can change. You want to review and update your beneficiary designations regularly. Life-changing events such as the birth of a child, marriage, divorce, or death can necessitate the updating of beneficiaries so that the assets transfer upon your death.
  5. Revocable Living Trust – this trust allows you to make changes or cancel the trust during your lifetime. A trust enables you to avoid probate, designate disposition of assets, and keep your affairs private.
  6. Irrevocable Trust – consider this trust that eliminates your control of the assets if you are concerned about Medicaid and tax planning. You cannot make changes or cancel an irrevocable trust while you are alive.
  7. Life Insurance – provides financial security to your designated loved ones upon your death. Life insurance can help cover debts, final expenses, and assist with estate tax planning.
  8. Durable Power of Attorney – provides for a designated agent to handle your financial affairs, such as signing tax returns, paying bills, and selling assets if you are unable to act on your own
  9. Estate Tax Plan – by speaking with a certified public account or financial advisor, you can avoid federal estate taxes after your death.
  10. Business Succession Plan – have a written plan to transition your business operations and ownership upon your retirement or unexpected incapacity or death.
  11. Funeral Expenses – at some point, everyone will need this. The reason to prepare and plan for this in advance is to save your loved ones the expense and stress that accompany these plans at the time of death.
  12. Document Storage – keep all documents in a safe, secure place, alerting someone as to where these documents are stored. Always destroy old, outdated documents to avoid conflict, hurt feelings, and litigation.
  13. Digital Footprint – you likely have many online or digital accounts. Keep all passwords and login information in a secure place. Provide the location of this information to someone who can act to cancel all accounts upon your death.

Please contact Coral Springs attorneys Brodzki Jacobs & Brook to discuss your estate planning options. We are here to provide answers to your questions. Contact us at (954) 344-7737.