We frequently write about how important it is to create an estate plan. Without an estate plan, no one will be sure how you want to have your property distributed once you have passed away. If you care for grandchildren or other minors, no one will know who you would prefer to name as guardian in the event of your incapacitation or death. And when it comes to end-of-life care, no one will be sure of your wishes if you fail to draft an estate plan.
The benefits of estate planning are clear. However, it can be difficult to know how to begin formulating your plan once you have resolved to create one. Thankfully, asking yourself a few straightforward questions should help you get the ball rolling. And once you have asked yourself these basic questions, you can then set up an appointment with an attorney in order to flesh out your ideas and actually draft the relevant legal paperwork.
First, ask yourself questions related to the scenarios we just outlined. For example, how do you want your property distributed upon your death? You may not know certain particulars of this question right now, but if you have a basic idea of how you would like your income, assets and personal belongings to be treated upon your death, you can begin formulating a will.
Second, ask yourself who you can trust to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacitation or significant mental decline. Ask yourself about what your values are in regards to end-of-life care. These questions will help you to formulate power of attorney and health care directives.
Finally, ask yourself if you have any other wishes about your property, your medical care or your funeral arrangements that you would like to make known to the world. Once you have explored these basic questions, you will be ready to start meeting with an attorney.
Source: CNN Money, “10 steps to painless estate planning,” Martha White, March 3, 2014