Planning Your Estate: Important Steps to Take to Protect Your Family

planning your estate

Do you know what is going to happen to your money, estate and other assets if you pass away or become unable to manage them on your own?

Planning your estate is crucial, but many people don’t think ahead. In fact, nearly 60% of U.S. adults don’t have a valid will in place.

This is a problem, because things can happen unexpectedly. No one wants to think about a time when they might not be around or become disable and unable to manage their own affairs. What will happen to your money, health and family? This is a tough question for most people to answer, but it’s critical that you have a solid estate plan in place, even if you’re young and healthy.

How to Plan Your Estate

It’s best to always plan for the worst so your family is never left struggling to get by. Here are seven important steps to take when getting your affairs in order:

1. Make a Checklist

Before you start, make sure you create an organized action plan that has every step you’ll need to take. Using this article as a guide, create a checklist for yourself to make sure you don’t miss a step.

Getting affairs in order can be a long process with a lot of steps, and even many steps within each item. Your checklist should be detailed and personalized to your exact needs.

2. Meet With a Professional

The first item on your to-do list should be to meet with professions, who can help make the process faster and easier on you. As we mentioned earlier, estate planning can be a long and tedious process. You’ll likely want a professional on your side to make sure you’ve done everything correctly and that it’s all legally valid.

A professional is there to guide you through the intricacies and make sure your documents are legally binding and organized. They will also be able to point out important details you may not have thought of before.

The type of professional that you choose to meet with can vary depending on your situation. Most likely, you’ll want a legal team on your side, a financial planner and a doctor. All of these pros can help you get different aspects of your life in order.

Finally, don’t forget to make sure a professional can confirm that all of your documents are valid and legally binding. A will scribbled on a piece of paper may not hold up in court.

3. Get Life Insurance

Life insurance is critical, but again, not many people actually have it. It’s true, only about 62% of U.S. adults have life insurance policies. Many people might think that life insurance is too expensive or unnecessary to have, but if something unexpected happens it’s a good way to ensure your family isn’t left struggling to get by.

How much does life insurance cost? It depends on your specific needs, so it’s best to contact your insurance company to get a quote. Your monthly price can depend on a lot of different factors, similar to health insurance. Rates are based on what your life expectancy is, and many things can determine that such as current age, gender and health habits (such as being a smoker vs nonsmoker).

It’s smart to buy life insurance as young as possible, such as in your 30s or even 20s if possible. The longer you wait, the more you’ll end up paying because of your age.

4. Don’t Spare Any Detail

Whether you choose to seek outside help or not, make sure you don’t spare any detail when organizing your affairs. Minor details being left out can lead to serious legal battles for your family down the road.

If you don’t have a professional prepare your documents, make sure you have them reviewed by someone who can pick up on things you might have missed.

5. Organize Your Important Documents

One detail you don’t want to miss is making sure all of your documents are together and in a secure location. This might seem like an obvious detail, but it can be overlooked.

First, make sure all of your documents are kept in a secure location. A safe is ideal, since it can’t be accessed easily and it’s safe from disasters like flooding and fire. Make sure everything your family could possibly need is inside. Next, make sure you share the location and access information with at least one trusted family member.

If your family can’t access your documents, this could cause legal trouble and financial hardship after you’re gone.

6. Give Consent to Pass on Information

There are many different laws in place to help protect your privacy around your money, health records and more. This is great while you’re living and able to manage your own assets, but it can cause problems for your family if something happens to you.

While you’re planning your estate, make sure you contact all of your medical providers, banks, lawyers and more to ensure your family members can have access to them if necessary. If you don’t leave this consent, your family members might be able to act on your behalf or access your accounts/medical records.

7. Help Others in Your Family

No one wants to plan for the worst, but it can make all the difference for your loved ones. It’s crucial that you look out for yourself also, so pass along these tips to your other family members.

Help them get their affairs in order to prevent you from being put in a difficult situation later on. Include them in your estate planning process and insist that you be included in their process as well.

Open communication is key when you’re planning your estate. You don’t want anyone left in the dark on your plans, so make sure you’re speaking with your loved ones every step of the way.

Start Planning Your Estate Today

Many people know that planning your estate is important, yet some people never put it into practice. Don’t wait – the younger you start planning ahead, the more prepared you’ll be if something goes wrong.

Interested in more tips about planning for the future? Browse the other topics on our blog for more advice on a healthy and successful future.