To help you to feel more comfortable both initiating and participating in the estate planning process, here are eight steps of estate planning.
- Choose an estate planning attorney that you’re comfortable with. Many estate planning attorneys offer seminars, write articles, and will provide a free consultation so you can determine whether you are a good fit.
- After selecting an attorney, you will be asked to fill out forms outlining your contact information and other basic information such as birth date, social security number, family members, and names of trusted helpers. Remember, all information is required to be kept confidential by your attorney’s office.
- Make a list of questions to ask your estate planning attorney during your consultation. He wants you to feel secure and sleep well at night, knowing that your needs and that of your family are being met through the estate planning process.
- Trust in your attorney. Just like you trust your fish monger to provide the best fish or your jeweler to provide the best diamonds for your investment, trust your attorney to guide you through the estate planning process.
- Follow through with the funding of your estate plan, as directed. In trust based planning, assets must be funded into your trust to ensure you and your family receive all of the benefits. In general, asset allocation is a part of estate planning.
- Let your family know that you have done estate planning. Share your attorney’s contact information and share as much detail of your plan as you wish. Your attorney may offer family meetings or trustee training sessions.
- Tell your trusted helpers the location of your original documents, important certificates, updated asset information, and online usernames and passwords.
- Keep your estate plan updated. Updating every three to five years is advised. Update sooner if you have a major life change (family, finances, or estate planning goals.)
If you have questions about these eight estate planning steps, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.