By The Wyoming LLC Attorney TeamJun 14, 2022
This estate planning checklist provides guidance for those looking to establish or update their estate planning documents. Key considerations include drafting a will, preparing ancillary documents for incapacity, reviewing beneficiary designations, considering life insurance, charitable giving, trusts, lifetime gifts, business succession planning, and final arrangements. Proper storage of estate planning documents is also emphasized.
If you are reading this article, you are likely seeking information on how and what estate planning documents you should have in place, or how you should go about reviewing and updating your current estate planning documents if necessary.
With that in mind, here is an estate planning checklist that you can use to further your discussion with an experienced estate planning attorney––whether you are doing estate planning for the first time or you are simply updating your current estate planning documents:
If you don't have a will in place, get one. If you do have a will in place, review it. Some questions you should keep in mind:
These documents focus on preparing for situations involving incapacity. In other words, they allow you to designate someone to make decisions for you when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself, and/or to express, in advance, your wishes regarding health care matters.
The ancillary documents you should discuss with your attorney include:
If you don't have any of these in place, you should have them prepared and executed. If you do have them, you should review them to ensure that they are up-to-date.
After you have considered your will and ancillary documents, you will want to confirm that your beneficiary designations are in line with your overall estate plan. If you don't have any beneficiary designations, you should make sure that they are put in place where appropriate, and that they are in line with the rest of your estate plan.
You should check your:
Depending on your individual circumstances, you may want to consider purchasing life insurance. Life insurance can be a very helpful tool in estate planning. It can help you make a gift to a beneficiary, or to ensure that funds are available to your estate to pay for your final expenses.
Your attorney can discuss with you the different vehicles available for making charitable gifts, be they outright gifts, gifts in trust, or gifts made through a private foundation.
It is also important to consider the timing of that charitable gift - whether it should be made while you are alive or if it would be better to make the gift after you pass away.
Keep in mind that trusts, especially revocable living trusts, are not one-size-fits-all. Whether a trust is right for your individual estate planning needs should be discussed with your estate planning attorney.
If you are thinking about making gifts during your lifetime, be sure to discuss this with your attorney. There are more ways to make a gift than simply writing a check to someone. You may want to put it in trust or pay for someone's education or medical expenses.
If you are the owner or co-owner of a family-owned or closely-held business, it is imperative that you discuss business succession issues with your attorney. You will also want to make sure that a plan is put in place to retain key employees, to bring family members into the business when you are ready, and to help ensure the long-term survival of the business.
Discuss your final arrangements with your estate planning attorney as well as your family. If you have specific wishes for where you would like to be buried or for what you would like done with your remains after your death, your estate planning attorney can prepare a document to help make your wishes clear and appoint someone to handle these requests.
You want to make sure that all of your estate planning documents are kept in a safe and secure location. If you are keeping them yourself, that would be in a safe deposit box or fireproof (and waterproof) safe in your home. Alternatively, you can discuss with your attorney the option of them retaining your estate planning documents.
Establishing or updating your estate planning documents is a crucial step in securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are honored. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list of everything that you will want to discuss with your estate planning attorney, but it should serve as a good guide and provide you and your attorney with some good discussion points. Remember, proper storage of your documents is essential, and engaging in conversations about your final arrangements is a vital component of a comprehensive estate planning strategy.