Around 60% of people in the US do not have a will or living trust, although older adults appear to be doing better in this respect.
As pointed out by Sally Hurme, author of Checklist for My Family: A Guide to My History, Financial Plans and Final Wishes, making a will and planning your estate as a whole – even if you are young – is vital, especially if you have children.
This is because if you don’t do so, in the event that you should pass, your possessions will be shared out according to the law instead of your wishes. Dying intestate can also contribute – to a minor extent – to furthering the women’s wealth gap.
Although this is mainly caused by aspects such as gender inequalities in the labor market, well considered planning can ensure the women in your family and extended circle are cared for so they can pursue projects such as education and training.
What are the key steps involved in estate planning?
Making An Inventory
Prior to making your will, you should draft as detailed as possible an inventory listing everything you own – including larger items such as your home, and smaller ones, such as jewelry or items with a sentimental value.
You should also write down any investments you have, bank accounts, insurance policies and the like. This will enable your beneficiaries and estate attorneys to access all relevant information in one place, without having to waste time on investigative work.
You should also list down any debts you may have with entities and private individuals, and include all credit cards under your name. As stated by one expert probate lawyer in MA, an inventory should be copied at least twice, with the original given to your estate administrator, a second copy to your next of kin, and the last kept in a safety deposit box if possible.
Opting For A Medical Power Of Attorney
A Medical POA is a legal document that identifies an agent that you authorize to take tough medical decisions for you if necessary. This power can also be exercised if your doctor deems you unable to make the pertinent decision for yourself.
Choosing an agent is a tough decision, but one that can save your family from heartbreak and tension. The agent will be able to make decisions such as which doctors to work with, which tests to have, and what treatments are best for you.
Choose A Trustworthy And Knowledgeable Estate Administrator And Make a Will
Your administrator will be in charge of ensuring that your wishes are respected when you pass away.
A professional administrator is the ideal person for this task, as they can make objective decisions that are not based on emotion. When making your will, talk to a lawyer who specializes in inheritance law if you wish to avoid probate for some of your assets.
Probate is a process that can take time, but you can always pass assets such as money in a bank account to your loved ones immediately. Your will should stipulate aspects such as who would be the legal guardians of your children if you and your partner/spouse passed away.
It can also include your wish to leave certain items to specific people. Your will will need to be signed and dated and then notarized. Once the will is ready, a copy should be provided to your administrator.
It is important for adults to plan their estate, even if they are young. Doing so will allow you to rest assured that all is in order with respect to guardianship (if you have children) and finances.
It will also enable your beneficiaries to access some possessions quickly, which they may need to do – for instance, to pay for funeral costs and related expenses.
The subject of estate planning can sometimes sound macabre, but it is the type of obligation that is best dealt with efficiently then forgotten about so you can enjoy life without worrying about the future.