How do I start the estate planning process?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2020 | Estate Planning

Oh boy, what a seemingly loaded question, but really, it is not. Times are tough right now, for some financially, but for all, psychologically. Every day feels like 2020 just piles it on, and the world seems crazy. We are bombarded by the reality of our own mortality every day, which is why this question has become such a popular one.

Step one

Our Sarasota, Florida, readers have already taken it by simply reading this blog because step one is simply deciding to create an estate plan. Planning for one’s inevitable death is facing one’s mortality, and it can be scary. But, in this dark year, facing one’s mortality may actually help make life a bit easier. After all, it will be one less thing to worry about.

Step two

The next step is figuring out one’s goals and writing them down. Really think about it because these will be the goal posts that will be utilized to craft the eventual estate plan. Think about who one wants to give their assets to, and write it down. Are there any causes that one wants to support after their death, like the Wounded Warriors Project, ASPCA, Public Radio, etc.?

For example, if one wants a friend to receive something, what happens if that friend dies first? Should their heirs get it, or should it go to a family member? Who should make medical decisions if one loses that ability? What are one’s medical wishes, like how long to be kept on a ventilator? What about organ donation, funeral arraignments, etc.?

Step three

Next, prepare a detailed list of assets, value and how those assets are titled. Be accurate, but if needed, rough estimates are okay. Do the homework though, and if any questions have come up during this process, write them down.

The final step

Now that one has their goals, a list of who they want to get what and a list of what they have, it is time to call an estate planning attorney. This planning work gives the attorney the information they need to craft one’s legally enforceable estate plan. Do not forget to ask those questions written down earlier, and please, do not be afraid to talk about the bad stuff. The more the attorney knows, the better one’s estate plan will be. Everything one tells their attorney is protected and confidential.