Estate Planning Checklist - Do You Need Estate Planning?
Here Are Eighteen Estate Planning Checklist Questions to Help You Learn Whether YOU Need Estate Planning
Many people have mistaken ideas about what estate planning is, or what it can do for you - and more importantly, for those you love. (These cover the most common concerns/concepts related to estate planning.)
- Do you have minor children or are you the legal guardian of a child under the age of 18? Yes___ No__
- If your financial situation or finances become public knowledge, do you have concerns that predators might take advantage of loved ones in their time of grief or stress? Yes____ No___
- If you got sick or injured, would you want to ensure that the person(s) that YOU say get to make your medical decisions if you can't do it for yourself? (And that a judge, or someone else, doesn't get to say who makes these decisions??) Yes____ No___
- If you got sick or injured, would you want to ensure that the person(s) that YOU say get to make your financial decisions if you can't do it for yourself? (And that a judge, or someone else, doesn't get to say who makes these decisions??) Yes____ No___
- If something happened to you (either death OR disability), would your family need access to your money right away, or could they wait several months? Yes - they need money right away___; No - they could wait____
- If something happened to you (either at a time near death OR during any type of long term disability), would you want your family to know what health care is acceptable to you and what isn’t, to avoid conflict or to avoid confusion? Yes___ No___
- If something happened to you (either death OR disability), would you want your family to know how your money should be spent on your/their/other loved one’s care - whether you prefer at home care, assisted living, or nursing home care? Yes___ No___
- Do you have a blended family (step children or step grandchildren-family members not related)? Yes___ No___
- Are your adult children married or do you anticipate your children getting married at any point in their lifetime? Yes___ No___
- Do any of your loved ones have problems with addiction, creditors, divorce, or are financially irresponsible (in your view)? Yes___ No___
- Do you believe an 18 year old is incapable of handling a large sum of money in a financially responsible manner (they shouldn't receive a large amount of money at age 18, because they will blow it or will possibly be taken advantage of)? Yes___ No___
- If you have minor children and are no longer married to the other parent, do you want someone other than your ex-spouse handling your money on behalf of your minor child? Yes___ No___
- Do you have a taxable estate (over 5.46 million (per spouse) in 2016, potentially 1 million or less starting 2016-on —this includes life insurance)? Yes___ No___
- Do you own a business? Yes___ No___
- If any of your loved ones are, or were to become, disabled, do you want to ensure they are provided for, without the government being able to take their money? Yes___ No___
- If you have and IRA, 401k, 403b or other tax-deferred investment for retirement, do you want to ensure that this asset is protected for your loved ones after your death? Yes___ No___
- If nursing home care becomes necessary for you or your spouse (whether or not you think it will ever happen or not!), are you concerned that the nursing home will be able to take all your assets/property? Yes___ No___
- If nursing home care becomes necessary for you or your spouse, are you concerned that your children will become responsible for your bills or the cost of your care? Yes___ No___
If you answered “YES” to any of the questions in the estate planning checklist above, you need some level of estate plan (and the more questions you answered yes to, the more you need it!).
The Estate Planning Checklist Is Designed To Help You Think About What You Need
Estate planning is much more than a Will or having Beneficiary Designations...you can accomplish many of your goals, and carry on your values related to your hard-earned money by implementing a plan that can include financial, tax, medical, guardianship and business planning.
The documents you may need, according to your particular situation, include a Will, a Revocable Living Trust, an Irrevocable Trust, Health Care Powers of Attorney, Financial Powers of Attorney, guardianships, conservatorships, and more.
If you fail to plan ahead, a judge will simply appoint someone to handle your assets and personal medical care. And your assets will be distributed according to the state’s rules - not your rules, or your wishes.
Remember, “probate is a lawsuit you file against yourself, with your own money, on behalf of your creditors.” Having no estate plan, or only having a will, ensures your heirs will go through the probate process - but this can be avoided.
You may also be interested in: How Old Should You Be Before You Get Powers of Attorney?
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The information in this blog is not intended to be, nor should it be, construed as legal advice. It is for informational purposes only. For advice, specific to your situation, consult with a qualified attorney