Make time to make an estate plan

Drafting an estate plan is something that few people want to think about. Nevertheless, taking the time to develop a plan and speaking to your loved ones about what you wish to happen after you are gone can help ensure that your wishes are followed. Although many people are intimidated by what they see as the daunting task of developing an estate plan, the reality is that it can be much easier than you might think.

An important first step when beginning the estate planning process is to make sure that you have filed paperwork to name beneficiaries for any retirement accounts or life insurance policies. In most cases, the process is fairly simple. If you named beneficiaries for these sorts of accounts previously, it is a good idea to review them from time to time, particularly after major life events, such as the birth of a child or a divorce.

Even if you have named beneficiaries for life insurance, retirement and other accounts, it is still a good idea to have a will. It can be a time consuming process to draft a list of your belongings and the people or organizations who are to receive them, but it can provide peace of mind that you have made your wishes known. In addition, a will can help prevent disputes among your heirs and can make the process of distributing your assets much easier.

It is also important to think about drafting a health care directive. A health care directive will provide your loved ones with instructions about the medical care you wish to receive in the event that you are incapacitated.

Finally, once you have a plan in place, it is important to speak to your family about what you want to happen after you are gone. Though many people avoid these sorts of conversations, they can go a long way in helping to prevent disputes. It is also a good idea to tell your loved ones about your bank accounts, whether you have anything in a safe deposit box and even where to find passwords for email and other online accounts.

The bottom line is that developing an estate plan is not just about protecting yourself, but also helping your loved ones. For more information about wills, trusts and other estate planning matters, schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney. An estate planning lawyer can explain your options and help you begin the process.