Estate Planning: Your First Step

Posted on: 7 May 2018

Leaving behind a legacy for those you love is probably important to you. If you've had the good fortune to accumulate investments, property and valuable assets, it's essential that you ensure your estate will go to the people you designate without probate or other issues. What should you be tackling first to make that happen?

1-Checking Paperwork

Your investments and insurance policies may already be intended for certain family members after your death. However, as divorces and marriages and children come along, you might be wanting certain monies to go to different people than you thought when you first completed paperwork. Every year you should reassess and review your insurance policies and investments to ensure that the appropriate people are listed as beneficiaries.

2-Pay Debts

As you're accumulating all the assets that make up your estate, you might also be racking up bills. These must be addressed before your death because some of those assets could be liquidated in order to settle bills at that point, leaving your family with less than you intended. For that reason, you should be spending a good deal of time checking your credit report and being aware of the total debt you have so you can begin eliminating that. In fact, you may consider selling some property or cashing in some investments today to handle debts so that your family will not be responsible for those actions later.

3-Hand Over Assets Now

In some cases, it makes more sense to hand over the reins to different assets now so you don't have to leave them with your estate. For example, if you already know that your business will be run by your children, sign it over to them now with an agreement that you will stay on in a guidance capacity. This means that they won't have to wait until the estate is settled to assume ownership. If you will give a property to a relative, think about doing it soon so that you are alive to ensure the transfer goes smoothly.

4-Discuss Your Choices

Discussing your death and plans for your money is not always comfortable. However, if you never directly speak to people about what you're up to, there could be confusion, disapproval and anger in your family when you die. By explaining or at least notifying everyone now about your goals and plans, they can process the information and talk with you.

Estate planning, if you start now, can protect your family and legacy. An estate planner, financial advisor or other professionals can assist you with covering all bases. Visit a site like for more.