On Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a great article by Steven Merkel (from Investopedia) highlighting 16 important steps to take when planning your estate. Over the next three posts, we are going to highlight the steps Merkel recommends, discussing as necessary, and hopefully giving you a loose checklist to consider when consulting an estate-planning attorney.
Step One: Take Inventory of Your Physical Assets
Physical assets include anything you can put your hands on. This would include your home, vehicles, furniture, antique lamps, etc. Merkel recommends listing everything worth $100 and more, but you’ll want to include any family heirlooms that might have intrinsic worth as well.
Step Two: Take Inventory of Non-Physical Assets
Once you’ve tallied your physical assets, it makes sense to move to the less tangible, but sometimes more valuable non-physical property. This might include checking and saving accounts, retirement funds and insurance policies.
Step Three: Tally Your Credit Cards and Debts
This is an extremely important step and will provide invaluable information to your estate plan administrator or will executor. To prevent any surprises for your loved ones, be thorough in recording all outstanding debts.
Step Four: List Organizations You Belong To and Charities You Support
What you do with this information, or direct your heirs to do with it following your passing, is up to you, but it’s a good idea to have this information recorded. Also, as Merkel points out, some organizations have life insurance benefits available to the families of former members.
Step Five: Provide Your Estate Administrator with the Above Information
Once you’ve recorded your assets, physical and non-physical, provide your estate administrator with the comprehensive list. Merkel recommends having three copies of this on hand – one for your estate administrator, one for your spouse (if applicable) and one for yourself (to be put in a safe place).
- Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die (San Francisco Chronicle)