When we design an estate plan for you, there are three main pieces of the planning: People, Property and Plans. Giving thought to each piece will help us design the most effective plan to meet your needs. That requires you to consider:
Your estate plan will center on you and the people you love. In the end, estate planning is really about making sure those people are taken care of to the best of your ability when you are no longer there to take care of them. So, give some thought not only to what stuff you want to pass along to them, but how. The "how" part is a way to pass along more than just your stuff. It's about passing along your values and priorities in a concrete way so that the people you care about will carry on your legacy.
Okay, so this one is more concrete. Your property is your stuff - everything from real estate to life insurance and bank accounts, to the couch you are sitting on right now while you're reading this sentence. Make a list of the assets you own in broad strokes so that your estate planning attorney understands the scope of the type of planning needed.
Now that you've identified the important people in your life, and the property you wish to pass on to them, you can give some thought to the logistics of how to do that - your estate plan. First, think about who you would name to make decisions for you if you can no longer do so, and also a second person in that role. Those decisions include both healthcare and end of life decisions, but also financial decisions. Importantly, if you have minor children, who would you want to step into your place if you are gone while they are still minors? How would you distribute your assets to your heirs? An estate plan can either pass everything along all at once (an outright distribution) or it can do so over a period of time once your heirs have reached certain ages or milestones you think make sense for them.
These are just a few of the issues to consider when approaching the planning process. They are much more important than the tracking down legal documents at this stage. Of course, we can help you think through all of these considerations.
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