On February 18, 2016

How to Start Estate Planning

How to Start Estate Planning

Estate planning can be the key to preserving your legacy and protecting your loved ones in the future. Although there can be a lot to think about when it’s time to put a formal estate plan in place, the following are the main considerations and steps to take when you are ready to develop an estate plan:

  1. Create an overview of your financial situation – This involves developing an inventory of your assets and/or debts to devise a portrait of your estate’s holdings and/or liabilities. The more complete and detailed this inventory is, the better you can plan for your estate and its assets moving forward. Among the assets to include in your estate inventory include (but may not be limited to):
    • Cash and bank account holdings
    • Real estate and personal items (e.g., jewelry, art collections, etc.)
    • Business interests
    • Stocks and bonds
    • Retirement accounts and other investment accounts
    • Life insurance policies.
  2. List your beneficiaries – This list should include all of the people (e.g., children, spouses and other loved ones) and entities (e.g., charities, education institutions and/or business entities) to whom you wish you give some asset to in the future. Creating this list of specific beneficiaries can be helpful in determining the best methods of transferring assets to them later.
  3. Consider your options for a personal representative and/or executor – In other words, who do you trust to oversee your estate, administer your will and/or handle probate for the estate in the future? Develop a list of possibilities, and prioritize your options (as your top choice may not necessarily be available or willing to accept this responsibility when the time comes).
  4. Consider your options for powers of attorney – In other words, who would you trust to make important medical and/or financial decisions on your behalf if you should become incapacitated in the future? Keep in mind that you can choose different people for medical versus financial decisions and that your powers of attorney can be limited, expansive or even split between two (or more) parties, depending on your needs and goals.
  5. Develop a list of questions – What are your biggest concerns or anxieties about estate planning? Are there specific needs or goals you have? Putting together a list of questions can be helpful when it’s time to meet with a lawyer and formalize your estate plan. 
  6. Make yourself accountable – Give yourself a deadline for having an estate plan, and stick to this goal. Putting off estate planning for too long can end up backfiring, costing you and your loved ones more if an accident (or some other unfortunate event) occurs.
  7. Schedule a consult with an experienced estate lawyer – This will help you identify you best estate planning options, avoid mistakes and develop the right plan for you, your estate and your loved ones.

Contact a Denver Estate Attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC

For exceptional estate planning services and probate representation in Colorado, you can turn to the Denver estate attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC.

To discuss your best estate planning options during an initial consultation, call our firm at (303) 741-2400 or email us using the contact form at the top of this page.

Categories: Estate Planning, Trustees, Executors & Fiduciaries, Trusts