Estate planning is a vital and necessary part of growing older, and something that many seniors do not think about while they are still healthy and able. According to a study done by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, more than 120 million Americans do not have updated estate plans or any long-term financial plans in place. If you are among this group with unprotected assets and finances, be aware that problems will mostly likely be encountered down the road. If you want to protect your estate, make creating a living will a priority. Discuss your wishes with family members and your doctors, take the appropriate legal steps, and consider using the assistance of a professional.
What to Do to Plan Your Estate
One of the first things to do when planning your estate is to list specific details about your property, accounts, doctors, financial information, etc. in one document. This will help your loved ones, who may be taking care of you in the event of a serious illness or death, avoid many roadblocks.
Make an inventory of what you own, such as:
- Real estate
- Business interests and property
- Various collectibles, such as coin collections
Next, it is important to make a list of “non-physical” items, such as:
- Insurance policies and documents
- Income and investments
- Debts and expenses
- Important records (personal, military, medical, etc.)
Finally, make a document that addresses keys, passwords and codes for:
- Your internet account passwords
- Alarm codes (home, business, etc.)
- Keys to your home(s), any real estate, vehicle(s), etc.
Once you’ve made these lists, located these items, and organized the appropriate documents, it is important to put them all in one place, such as a water and fireproof safe. This way, in the event of illness or death, your loved ones will not have the added anxiety of organizing your estate; you will have everything in one place.
These are short, concise lists to help you organize your personal items, real estate, documents and anything else someone might need to get your affairs in order. Too often people don’t take the time to do this, leaving loved ones in a state of confusion or perhaps even in a stressful legal battle. Organizing your assets will aid your loved ones, safeguard your estate, and ensure that it is dealt with according to your wishes after you are longer able to speak for yourself.