An estate plan is a set of documents that work in concert to ensure that your property and assets are distributed when, how, and to whom you choose. Your estate planning attorney will direct the nuanced discussion, but you should consider a couple of basic issues to prepare for the creation of your estate plan:
- Beneficiaries: Beyond your direct nuclear family or close extended family members, consider other people and organizations such as caretakers, pets, schools, charities, or religious institutions that are important to you.
- Deciders: You will want to appoint trustworthy individuals to administer your estate and to make choices regarding your end-of-life care and financial wellbeing.
- Assets and Wealth: Review all of your assets including those with high emotional value such as personal items and family heirlooms. Also consider the nature of your wealth and ownership. How are your assets titled? If you are a business owner, do you have partners or investors? How assets are titled affects how they will transfer and to whom.
- Timing: Think about how you would like your assets to be distributed and when. Do you prefer an outright distribution? Would you prefer assets be placed in a trust? Should the distribution wait until after your death or do you want to put assets aside right now?
This is by no means a comprehensive list of the topics to consider before or during the estate planning process. But if you have taken the time to think about these issues above, you will be well on your way.