Take some action steps to get your financial estate in order.
Estate Planning For All Ages
I’d like to offer a reminder to make sure your estate affairs are in order. In today’s environment, having your estate and financial matters organized can help if you or a loved one’s health were to be compromised. Estate planning isn’t just for older people!
When you think of estate planning, you might immediately think of a will and/or trust. These are typically the first documents to be prepared, and can help you decide how your assets will be distributed, not the state. These documents are what is typically used to provide for a minor child – critical so that your wishes are known and legally documented. Consult an estate planning attorney to get started. I know several Chicago-area attorneys who do this work – use the Contact Us form to request a referral.
Many people think that a will or estate plan is only necessary for someone with a lot of assets or with dependents. While lots of assets can mean added complications, there are good reasons for everyone to have an estate plan. If you die without a will, your estate can go into probate – which can take significant legal costs and many months to resolve, depending on how complex your situation is. That’s not something most people want their loved ones to experience while they are also dealing with the grief of losing someone they love.
Beyond a will, here are some typical components of an estate plan
In addition to a will, there are several other areas of estate planning to consider. Here are some of them:
- Powers of attorney for health care and financial matters. These documents give authority to a loved one in the event that you are incapacitated. Often when drafting a will, attorneys will also provide these documents for you to complete and sign. Make sure yours are up to date and properly reflect your wishes. Contact an attorney for assistance.
- Living will. A living will is a document that provides advice to your doctors and loved ones of your wishes about medical treatment if you are terminally ill.
- Beneficiaries on retirement accounts. If you have retirement accounts (such as an IRA, Roth IRA, 401k, 403b), you have the ability to select a beneficiary who inherits these assets directly. Check your accounts to be sure your beneficiary is identified and is up to date, especially if your situation has recently changed (got married/divorced, had a child). And, if you don’t have a Contingent beneficiary listed, consider adding those in the event that your primary beneficiary predeceases you.
- Transfer on Death designations for non-retirement accounts. Many financial institutions and states will permit you to establish a designation that allows your asset to be transferred to the person you designate upon your death. Read more here. Talk to your estate planning attorney to identify whether this is the best way for your assets to be handled.
- Passwords. Store your usernames and passwords in a safe place and let your family know where they are. This includes the password to your smartphone, online photos, and social media accounts, in addition to your banking and other financial relationships.
I am not an attorney and this information is not intended as legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific situation.
Get a financial affairs summary sheet
I have a summary sheet that outlines a variety of financial documents and other materials to collect and have on hand in a physical folder. These materials can help your loved ones know where to go for all the important financial matters in the event that you can’t do it yourself. It takes some time to assemble the documentation, but it can be very beneficial in a time of need. Reach out via the Contact Us page if you’d like a copy of the financial affairs summary sheet.