It’s October, the month of sugar highs and paranormal disguise. Soon, the street will be teeming with the undead, and so what better time than now to talk about protecting your family from beyond the grave? You don’t have to believe in an afterlife to understand that your role as a parent continues long after you’re gone, you just have to believe in the power of planning. The witches and zombies filling the streets on Halloween may be make-believe but the importance of preparing for the future isn’t. What follows are 5 tips to help you get started.
Five Tips for Living Your Best (After) Life
All of us want to leave this life knowing we’ve left our affairs in order and our loved ones looked after. Achieving this means executing an estate plan which, itself, begins with a little bit of legwork. An experienced elder care attorney will ensure the legal aspects are a breeze, but their ability to do their part hinges on you doing yours. Specifically, you need to:
1. Inventory Your Assets
You can only protect the assets you know about. Before you begin drafting estate planning documents, you need to take stock of all that you own, including financial accounts, real estate, items of financial or sentimental value, and digital property.
2. List Your Debts
You will be gone one day but your debts will remain. When you pass, your debts will have to be paid out of your estate and so it is crucial that they be accounted for in the planning stage.
3. Review Your Beneficiary Designations
Your retirement accounts and life insurance policy allow you to name a beneficiary to whom the asset will pass when you die. These beneficiary designations take precedence over anything you might state in your will or revocable trust, therefore it is important you review them when building your estate plan.
4. Choose an Agent to Execute Your Wishes After You Die
Your after-death agent may be the executor of your will or your successor trustee. The person you choose as an agent is responsible for administering your estate when you die. They are the person who secures your property, pays outstanding debts and taxes, and distributes your assets to beneficiaries. A trusted and responsible loved one is usually the best person for this role but before finalizing that choice, you need to talk to them to ensure they are comfortable with this responsibility.
5. Seek Out an Experienced Attorney
As you check off these preliminary tasks, you also want to start looking for an estate planning or elder care lawyer who can help you with the mechanics of your plan. Some people build their estate plan around a will, others around a revocable trust, and others use a different strategy altogether. Your attorney will help you decide what is best in your circumstances and then, of course, they will coach you through making it happen.
Halloween might be a night of light-hearted reverie but protecting your family from beyond the grave is dead serious (yes, pun intended). You can’t do this without an estate plan and so there’s no time to waste on getting yours started. After all, life is full of scary things and not all of them are make-believe.