How to Get Started on Estate Planning

Get started on estate planning now before it's too late.For those Millennials (and Baby Boomers- don’t think you’re off the hook!) who own and home or have a family, estate planning is something you absolutely must do.  I see so many people avoiding it because they don’t want to have those what-if conversations with their partner or they don’t want to pay an attorney.  But you’ve got to stop avoiding it.  I know it’s not an easy conversation, but once you have it, you don’t have to talk about it again until there are major life changes.

Estate planning is one of those things that you don’t realize how important it is until you need it.  It’s also not something you want to be dealing with when the situation arises and you should be focusing on family and loved ones.  If you are struggling with getting started, here are some things to consider:

  1. Last Will & Testament – This says who will inherit your assets and possessions when you pass away.  It also says who is going to oversee settling your estate and who will be the guardians of any minor children.
  2. Living Will – If you are near death or in a persistent vegetative state, this will outline your wishes.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney – This states who can make financial decisions for you if you are no longer able to. It also allows that person to pay your bills and manage your assets.
  4. Health Care Proxy – This allows a designated person to make medical decisions for you.  This person should know what your wishes are should the occasion arise.
  5. Life Insurance – This is something to consider as part of your larger picture of financial planning.  Many people find having a term insurance policy to be a cost-effective way to provide a way to help their family cover expenses should something happen to them. There are many types of life insurance so research what may be best for your situation.
  6. Retirement Fund Beneficiaries – Many Millennials are saving for retirement at work which is great, but make sure to keep your beneficiaries updated on the accounts. Don’t forget about the 401(k)s from previous jobs.  If you get married or have kids, you may want to make changes to the beneficiaries on all those accounts.

These are just a few of the considerations when you start thinking about estate planning.  It is also important to note that this is one area where you should work with a professional.  An estate attorney will know the laws in your state and most likely bring up some considerations that you may not have thought of.  These documents are legal ones that you want to make sure are correct.  You don’t want that weird cousin getting your rare Pokémon card collection when you wanted to leave it to your child just because your Will had some questionable language from a legal website.

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