Legacy after death can become complicated if the deceased doesn’t plan an estate. Whether it’s for yourself, your spouse or an older loved one, the pragmatism in us knows that planning an estate is one of the most important things that we must do before dying.
Write a Will
In the United States, reaching the age of 18 unlocks a great deal of personal rights, privileges and responsibilities. This includes personal autonomy over your assets. We all plan on being here for decades, but the unexpected does occur.
A will is the rulebook for distributing your assets and the most effective prevention of havoc among your heirs. A will always should be signed and dated by you and two witnesses, along with a notarization on the final draft.
There are many attorneys available for constructing a will. Expect it to cost less than $1,000. If that’s too much, several home software programs are available to aid your will construction.
Know Who You Want to Inherit What
This can be a heart-wrenching decision for some, but it is your right to decide who gets what. There are a variety of methods for this process. Many people like to divide any inheritance evenly among their children. If your children all are financially independent, finished with college, healthy and fiscally responsible, even distribution should be fine. If any of these things are not the case, think hard about how you might want to alter your plan.
If your assets include tangible objects or real estate, you may want to consider who might have a stronger connection to an item, may be in greater need of an item (such as a car) or live closer to it (a home). Any specific bequeathing can later be balanced by more liquid assets, such as stocks and cash.
In addition to your close family, consider friends, other relatives and any organizations in which you believe. Does anyone have a special connection to a piece of jewelry or memorabilia? Are you affiliated with a charity? This sort of gift is an effective way to expand the scope of our legacies. Make sure to be specific to avoid any confusion.
Arrange Plans for Any Businesses
In line with the assets of your will, any business that you own and/or run needs to have a smooth transfer of power, or else it can damage its operations.
Inventory Your Assets and Debts
No one is going to want your favorite pair of socks, but anything of value should be listed and organized. The list should include:
- Material items of value
- Real estate holdings
- Insurance plans
- Credit cards and any other recurring bills
- IRAs, 401ks and other retirement plans
- Any funeral pre-planning
Choose an Estate Administrator You Trust
All your efforts will be for naught if a copy isn’t put in the hands of an administrator that you’re confident you can rely on. The administrator will have several responsibilities:
- They will be expected to conduct a thorough search of personal pages and bank accounts to find any debtors or recurring payments.
- Contact billing companies and other pertinent parties of your death and burial.
- Oversee the payments of any leftover expenses and taxes.
- Manage the estate itself.
- Distribute assets to the appropriate parties listed in the will.
Don’t forget to send your estate plan to your administrator!
Assign TOD Designations
TOD stands for transfer on death. Upon death, many bank accounts and other financial accounts can end up in probate court, where assets will be distributed by court instruction and unnecessary costs pile up. This can be avoided by assigning a TOD feature to whomever you wish to gain control of each account.
Visit an Estate Attorney
If you haven’t been working with one already, it’s wise to visit an estate attorney to ensure that there is nothing missing and that your estate is in order. Estate attorneys are extremely well-versed on tax code and legal requirements set forth by governing bodies. This knowledge can save time and money since you’ll avoid any hassles caused by mistakes or unaddressed matters.
Pre-Planning a Funeral
Making plans for directly after death is perhaps the kindest thing you can do for your family and friends. That’s because it is immediately after death that your family is under the most duress. By pre-planning your funeral, you’ll have eliminated any stress over costs and how you should be memorialized. Choose whether you wish for above-ground burial, cremation or in-ground burial. Consider your ceremony. Knowing what you desired for your funeral will help everyone process their grief a little faster.
How to Make Estate Planning Easier
Are you in the process of preserving your life and legacy plan? Memorial Properties has teamed up with Everplans to make things easier than ever. In its fourth decade of existence, Memorial Properties has seen firsthand how to prepare for life after death. Learn more about creating an everplan and pre-planning your funeral today.