All adults should have a basic estate plan in place to provide instructions for their loved ones after they pass away. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to get one in place either because they think they have plenty of time to create it or because they don’t want to think about it. This can put their loved ones in a bad position when the person passes away.
If you don’t have an estate plan in place right now, you should carefully consider how doing a little work can help loved ones in the future. This isn’t necessarily a challenging process but it can take a little time.
Create a will
Your will provides the plans for your assets. You can pass specific things on to heirs, but remember that they might not have any privacy once the matter goes through the probate process. The will needs to be specific, and it is a good idea for you to speak to your heirs ahead of time so they know what’s going to happen when you pass away.
Check payable on death designations
Payable on death designations let financial institutions know who gets your account when you pass away. You set these on checking, savings, retirement, investment and life insurance accounts. It is a good idea to review these periodically to ensure they are still set for the intended parties. These accounts aren’t covered by other components of the estate plan, so there is no need to include them in the will.
Set end-of-life plans
Another component of estate planning is getting the end-of-life plans set. This includes a plan for your medical care. You should clearly note anything that you aren’t willing to have done. For example, if you don’t want to be placed on a heart bypass machine, you need to list that. If you don’t want to be resuscitated, you do need to have a “do not resuscitate” order in place so the medical care team knows this information. Remember that paramedics don’t follow this order since it is only applicable to hospitals and doctors’ offices.
Taking the time to get an estate plan established now can save your family a lot of trouble later. It can also give you peace of mind since you know that things are set up in the best manner possible when you are gone.