Estate planning can seem complicated. So much so that we put it off. But put it off too much and you might regret it. Here are some estate planning basics to get you started.
Make sure your accounts are titled correctly. If you’re married and don’t have any estate planning documents. The least you can do is own things jointly. This is what my Dad called a farmer’s will. Most of my family on my Dad’s side came from farmers in Tecumseh Michigan. If you own things jointly, it goes to the spouse when you die.
This is a simple and effective plan. But not everyone uses it. They own cars and checking and saving accounts individually. If this is the case, you can use aÂ transfer on death (TOD) to move these accounts into your spouse’s or children’s names when you pass. You can even designate charities if you wish.
If you own IRAs, Roths, 401ks, or other investment accounts, make sure you have your primary and contingent beneficiary information complete. Review it every now and then to make sure it’s still complete.
Estate Planning Documents
Eventually, everyone should consider having estate planning documents drafted. Here’s a list of documents you might consider:
- Power of Attorney (for finances)
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Patient Advocate
- Advanced Medical Directives
*A Trust gives you more control after you’ve passed. Depending on current laws, you might consider having a trust drafted.
There are several things that can go wrong if you neglect your estate plan. Many of these things don’t involve or require fancy estate planning documents. Simple things like setting up your accounts jointly, or using a transfer on deathÂ forms to execute your wishes can accomplish a lot. Estate planning documents can make up the difference, especially for health. No matter what you do, learn the estate planning basics.