An estate plan lets you state your end‐of‐life wishes regarding your assets, healthcare, and more in writing.
Lacking an estate plan could cause confusion and financial stress for loved ones. A probate court may become responsible for distributing your assets, which may not reflect your wishes.
Thus, putting one together as soon as possible may be something to think about.
There are many pieces to an estate plan, even if you don’t have a complex financial situation.
With that in mind, this article will dive into five estate planning tips beginners can use to prepare their plans today.
1. Take inventory of your estate
Your estate isn’t just big‐ticket items like your house. You likely own more assets than you realize.
There are two types of assets to take inventory of that are part of your estate: tangible and intangible.
Tangible assets are physical pieces of property. Some examples include:
- Real estate properties (home, vacation home, rental real estate)
- Precious metals
- Art and antiques
- Power tools
Intangible assets are non‐physical properties. These are usually financial accounts. Some examples include:
- Bank accounts/Certificates of Deposit
- Retirement accounts
- Taxable brokerage accounts
- Insurance policies (health, long‐term care, homeowners, life, etc.)
Finally, list out all your debts. These may include:
- Auto loans
- Home equity loans or lines of credit
- Personal loans
- Credit cards
2. Consider a life insurance policy
Life insurance can offer your loved ones a payout if you pass away during the policy term. They can use this to help with the loss of your income and help pay off debts.
Having a life insurance policy can help while planning your estate. Some policies have potential tax savings. It’s important to speak with a tax advisor to see what is best for you. We recommend working with a financial or estate planner to iron out the details.
Term life insurance is often a good choice for estate planning since premiums are usually inexpensive and you are able to choose your term length based on your unique situation. .Shop for several term life insurance quotes to get the best rates.
3. Assemble your estate planning team
Creating a rock‐solid estate plan can be tough on your own. Most people work with professionals to ensure they include all their wishes.
One of the most important professionals to hire is an estate planning attorney. They can help you brainstorm everything you want to include in the estate plan documents and write them appropriately to help meet all your wishes. Your attorney may also assist anyone you give power of attorney to upon your passing away.
Working with a financial advisor and tax professional is beneficial as well. They offer specialized expertise in the areas of finance and taxes, helping you pass more of your wealth down to your heirs.
4. Know which documents to create
Estate plans consist of several documents. Creating these helps you spell out all your end‐of‐life wishes.
The will is one of the most vital documents to have, because it states how you want assets to be distributed.
Next, you’ll want powers of attorney. A durable power of attorney lets you choose someone to make financial decisions on your behalf, such as paying bills or accessing bank accounts, if you become incapacitated.
Medical powers of attorney are also critical. These let you choose someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Similarly, advanced health care directives state your end‐of‐life medical care wishes.
Finally, consider writing your funeral‐related wishes with a funeral planning checklist.
5. Review your documents regularly
Reviewing your estate plan regularly is just as critical as creating them. If you go through a significant life event, you want your estate plan to reflect the changes.
For example, if you sell your home and move to a smaller house, you must update your will to reflect the change.
Macroeconomic factors can also require changes. For example, changes to the tax code could impact your assets or how your estate is taxed.
Even if you don’t experience significant financial changes, a good rule of thumb is to meet with your estate planning attorney every two to three years to review your plan in case your wishes change.
Put your estate together today
Estate planning can seem confusing, but following a few simple steps can help you complete most of the process.
Start by taking inventory of your tangible and intangible assets and your debts. Consider applying for a life insurance policy to help your heirs handle those debts and get more of your wealth.
After that, assemble your estate planning team and work with them to create the documents you need to get all your wishes in writing. Finally, review your estate plan every two to three years and every time you experience a significant life change.
Following these steps can help you and your loved ones peace of mind knowing your wishes are spelled out.
Coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus. In New
York, coverage is underwritten by American Family Life Assurance Company of New York.
68000 series: In Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, & Virginia, Policies:
ICC1368100, ICC1368200, ICC1368300, ICC1368400. In Delaware, Policies A68100‐A68400. In
New York, NY68100‐NY68400. B61000 series: In Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon,
Pennsylvania, Texas, & Virginia, Policies: ICC18B61JWO & ICC18B61JTO. In Virginia, Policies
ICC0965JTO & ICC0965JWO. B60000 series: In Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas,
& Virginia, Policies: ICC18B60C10, ICC18B60100, ICC18B60200, ICC18B60300, & ICC18B60400.
Q60000 series: Whole: In Arkansas, Policy Q60100CAR. In Delaware, Policy Q60200M. In Idaho Policy Q60100CID. In Oklahoma, Policy Q60100COK. In Oregon, Policy Q60100COR. In Texas,
Policy Q60100CTX. Q60000 series: Term: In Delaware, Policies Q60200C. In Arkansas, Idaho,
Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Policies ICC18Q60200C, ICC18Q60300C, ICC18Q60400C.
Aflac Final Expense insurance coverage is underwritten by Tier One Insurance Company, a subsidiary of Aflac Incorporated and is administered by Aetna Life Insurance Company. The life insurance policy described herein contains an optional Accelerated Death Benefits Rider that is intended for favorable tax treatment under Section 101(g) of the Internal Revenue Code. Aflac does not give legal or tax advice. Please consult with a qualified legal, tax, and accounting advisor before engaging in any transaction. In AR, AZ, ID, OK, OR, PA, TX and VA: Policies ICC21AFLLBL21 and ICC21‐AFLRPL21; and Riders ICC21‐AFLABR22, ICC21‐AFLADB22, and ICC21‐
AFLCDR22. Tier One Insurance Company is part of the Aflac family of insurers. In California, Tier
One Insurance Company does business as Tier One Life Insurance Company (Tier One NAIC 92908).
This is a brief product overview only. Coverage may not be available in all states, including but not limited to DE, ID, NJ, NM, NY or VA. Benefits/premium rates may vary based on state and plan levels. Optional riders may be available at an additional cost. Policies and riders may also contain a waiting period. Refer to the exact policy and rider forms for benefit details, definitions, limitations and exclusions. For complete details, including availability and costs, please contact your local Aflac agent.
Aflac does not offer Universal or Variable Universal life insurance.
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