Did you know the estate of the legendary singer Prince remains unsettled, even four years after his death? You would assume that someone with such immense wealth would have a contingency plan in place. But unfortunately, Prince didn’t leave a will behind. And what happened next was a probate disaster, including a federal inmate claiming to be Prince’s son and requesting his share. Even after the heirs were determined, his estate remains a complicated settlement case.
Yes, dying is a morbid thing to think about. But would you trust the state to divide your assets among your heirs fairly? It’s not necessary to have wealth as large as Prince’s for estate planning. And of course, death doesn’t discriminate. You don’t want to leave your loved ones with the legal hassle.
Here are a few things you can do to get started with estate planning-
Make a List of Tangible Belongings
Start by making a list of all your valuables, from electronics to jewelry to vehicles. By making a list, you will realize you own a lot more than you thought. It’s also a good idea to note down if you want someone to have any specific item from your belongings.
Make a List of Intangible Assets
Similarly, you should also know all the intangible assets in your name. This would include bank accounts, life insurance policies, intellectual properties, equity shares 401K plans, and so on. Assemble all the documents, account numbers, and contact information.
Know Your Debts
If you die before repaying your debt, your assets will be utilized to pay off debts. That’s why it’s necessary to know your debts. So, make a list of all debts and other obligations. This list will include credit cards, mortgages, and any other personal loans. Again, note down account numbers, documents and contact information pertaining to each debt.
Collect Important Documents
Compile all important documents such as insurance papers, property deeds, birth certificates, attorney information, and other important documents. Keep all such documents in a safe place that your loved ones can access when the time comes.
Create a Will
Next task, you have to create a will. This is the time to decide which assets go to whom. As previously mentioned, things can get complicated in the absence of a will. If you don’t have a will, the decision to divide your assets will fall in the hands of the state.
Pick an Estate Administrator
An estate administrator or executor is a person responsible for carrying out your wishes according to your will. Anyone above the age of 18 can be your estate administrator. Often people pick their spouse or children to carry out the duties of an executor.
Involve Estate Planning Attorney
It’s understandable that the legal requirements can get confusing. To expedite the process, you should consult an elder estate planning law firm. An estate attorney will provide you the necessary guidance and advice.
Make Multiple Copies
After you have assembled all the required documents, make sure you make multiple copies of everything and store them in a fireproof box.
Talk to Your Heirs
Even though you have taken care of everything on paper, it’s a wise decision to inform your loved ones of the same. You should talk to your heirs about your will so that there are no misunderstandings later on.
Keep Updating Documents
It’s never too early to create an estate plan. However, you should be mindful of regularly updating the various lists. Doing it once a year is a good idea.
There is no ideal time to draft your will. It’s best to do it as soon as possible and enjoy the peace of mind!