Handling the affairs of a deceased parent or another family member can be daunting. However, knowing you have everything organized and in one place will reduce your anxiety the next time you go on vacation.
Consider Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer.
Many online options do a good job with the basics, but every family and estate have unique characteristics and needs. Hiring an experienced lawyer to put together a complete package for your situation is the only way to really get the peace of mind your family deserves.
Pick Your “Fiduciaries”.
Your fiduciaries are the people you choose to handle your financial and medical affairs if you are not able. Sometimes this person is called your “Executor,” “Power of Attorney,” or “Patient Advocate.” Be sure to ask this person if they are open to help if anything happens to you.
Update Your Beneficiary Forms.
Most people don’t think of beneficiary forms for their retirement accounts or life insurance as an estate planning document. However, they actually direct those accounts on where to go when you die. Keeping beneficiary forms updated as things in your life change is important to minimize taxes and ensure your plan is carried out the way you want.
Update the Deeds for Your Real Estate.
While preparing a deed may seem simple, if you mishandle it, there may be negative tax consequences, including losing your title insurance. Without the right type of deed, there may be delays and additional costs when you try to sell or refinance the property.
Organize Important Documents.
Gather all of your important documents and store them in a safe place, both digitally and physically. You will also want to maintain lists of financial and personal information that your power of attorney and executor may need.
Keep Your Affairs in Order.
The good news is you don’t have to do this all at once. Make a habit of going through your lists and “emergency drawer” during tax time. Keeping everything in order is even easier once you have it all in one place. But, you have to give it attention and time every year.