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Where to start with estate planning

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2024 | Probate

Many people are under the impression that estate planning is only for high-asset individuals and that it’s not necessary until you get older. But estate planning can benefit everyone in Indiana, no matter their financial situation or age. If you have yet to begin creating your estate plan, the time to start is now. Having your estate plan in place can help you feel confident that, should anything happen to you, others will carry your wishes out. 

Where to Begin 

The first step in estate planning is to create an inventory of your assets. This may include real estate, vehicles, collectibles, jewelry and art pieces. Don’t forget to include your non-tangible assets like savings accounts, bonds, life insurance policies and retirement accounts. Then you’ll need to decide how you wish for others to distribute those assets. You may wish to leave them to heirs, to charities or a combination of both.  

One must arrange to take care of debts before distributing assets. When creating your estate plan, you may want to consider your life insurance policy to decide if it will cover your family’s needs after your death. Be sure to review each policy to make sure to list the beneficiaries, and don’t leave anything blank as that can cause issues during probate.  

Other things to remember 

If you have young children, one of the most important things to include in your estate plan is who you wish to act as guardian should you pass away unexpectedly. Be sure to talk to the individuals you wish to care for your children, so you know they’re up for the challenge if they’re needed. Many parents also choose to include a backup guardian. 

Your estate plan may include a medical care directive that provides explicit instructions on how you want others to care for you if you can’t make decisions on your own. Designate a power of attorney who will be responsible for making decisions on your behalf. Consider using a trust that may allow your beneficiaries to receive assets without going through the probate process.  

When to seek legal advice 

Thinking about what will happen after you die is not easy, but it’s important to have a plan in place long before you need it. Estate planning helps you feel confident that your family will have proper care after your death and that others will distribute your assets according to your wishes. If you need assistance with the estate planning process, it’s best to work with someone knowledgeable of Indiana’s estate planning laws.