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3 easy steps to start an estate plan

On Behalf of | Apr 6, 2024 | Estate Planning |

It is common for people to procrastinate about estate planning, and many adults have their own explanations for why they put off this important process. In some cases, people find the variety of options overwhelming. They overcomplicate estate planning, which prevents them from seriously committing to the process.

Estate plans can be incredibly complex, but they don’t need to be. It is actually very simple to create a basic estate plan that can provide essential protection for the testator drafting the documents. The three steps below are all that separate someone without an estate plan from someone with the protection of legal paperwork.

Consider relationships and support needs

One of the most important elements of estate planning is addressing any close relationships, including those with dependent family members. Testators may need to think about naming a guardian for their children or providing life insurance so that their spouse can pay off the balance on the mortgage for the family home. A testator usually wants to provide for the needs of those left behind when they die. People also need to consider who might have the responsibility to serve as their attorney-in-fact, the guardian of their children or the personal representative of their state.

Create an inventory of assets and liabilities

An estate assumes ownership over someone’s property and has responsibility for their tax obligations and debts. The estate planning process often involves a review of finances to ensure the estate can cover someone’s debts. People also need to identify the assets that they need to include in their estate plans.

Schedule a discussion with somebody professional

Some people fall down the rabbit hole of attempting to draft their own documents, possibly by using the internet. They leave themselves at risk of invalid paperwork and mistakes that could lead to probate litigation. Once someone has identified their estate planning needs by reviewing their relationships, family circumstances and finances, they can explain to a lawyer what they need to accomplish with an estate plan. A lawyer can help them put together the right documents given their wishes, including wills, powers of attorney and even trusts.

Someone only needs a few days of reflection and review, combined with the right support, to set themselves up for successful estate planning. Overcoming the impulse to procrastinate may be the most important step of the estate planning process.