An estate plan is simply a set of legal documents to prepare for your death or disability. The specific documents you’ll need depends on various factors, including the number, size, type of your assets, and your overall estate planning goals.
If forced to list the top 10 major components and the associated goals of a comprehensive estate plan, I’d list the following (in rough order of importance):
- A plan for orderly disposition of all your property of your choosing.
- Naming guardians to raise and care for minor children.
- Naming fiduciaries to handle minor children’s assets.
- A plan to help fund the charities you supported during your lifetime.
- A financial power of attorney so you can name an agent to manage your financial decisions, if you are ever unable to do so, with as specific (or non-specific) directions to the agent as you desire.
- A healthcare power of attorney so you can name an agent to manage your financial decisions, if you are ever unable to do so, with as specific (or non-specific) directions to the agent as you desire.
- A plan for succession or sale of a business (often a close corporation or family business).
- A plan to dispose of property in a tax advantaged manner.
- Planning for life insurance to support those economically dependent on you and/or to provide liquidity for the estate.
- Making known your wishes (whether simple or complex) regarding the disposition of your final remains.
Of course, any order of importance is unique to that individual. Someone with, say, minor children will find items #2 and #3 incredibly important. Someone else with adult children, or no children at all, but with a very large estate may look at #8 as quite significant. One list doesn’t fit all, just like there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for estate planning.
What are your estate planning goals? Feel free to share with others in the comments below.
Estate planning is a smart step you can take today. The easiest way to get started is with my free, no-obligation estate plan questionnaire. If you have questions or want to discuss your individual situation, don’t hesitate to reach me by phone (515-371-6077) or email.