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5 tips for getting started on your estate plan

Creating an estate plan can seem like a daunting task. Also, it may make you uncomfortable to prepare for what happens after you die. There are so many reasons you may procrastinate estate planning. While this is understandable, it is important for you to start. 

Estate planning does not need to be as scary or complex as it seems. Here are some easy steps to stop postponing the estate planning process:

1. Make a deadline

If you do not have a specific estate planning goal, it is easy to keep putting it off. Setting a deadline will motivate you to accomplish this task. Plan to begin your estate plan by your next birthday or the end of the year. 

2. Take inventory of your assets

Make a list of your assets, including:

  • Home
  • Vehicles
  • Bank accounts
  • Savings accounts
  • Bonds
  • Stocks
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement savings
  • Life insurance plans
  • Collectible items

Once you have this list, determine the values and debts of these belongings. 

3. Consider who will be your beneficiaries

Next, you want to figure out who will inherit your estate. This may include:

  • Children
  • Spouse
  • Grandchildren
  • Siblings
  • Nephews
  • Nieces
  • Best friends
  • Charitable organizations

Include the full names, addresses and dates of birth of anyone you decide to name as a beneficiary to your estate plan.

4. Consider the documents you need

At the very least, you should create a will. This is a basic document that ensures your heirs receive the assets you have intended for them. Depending on your needs and desires, you may also want to create a trust, power of attorney or an advance directive for health care. 

5. Decide who will represent your wishes

As you draw up an estate plan, you must name people to carry out your wishes. For example, when you draft a will, you must name an executor to administer your assets. An advance health care directive also appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if it becomes necessary.

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