Estate planning can seem overwhelming. So here are some steps that you should take to before beginning the estate planning process to make it more manageable.
First, you should create a complete inventory of assets and debts. Estate debts are settled before assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Compiling records of what assets you have, where they are, and what debts need to be settled will help during the probate process. You can read more about the probate process here.
Next, you should meet with an attorney to create your estate planning documents. Every estate plan is different, but these documents will likely include a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, and Durable Power of Attorney. Even if you have created these documents, you may want to review them to see if you would like to make any changes. You will also need to find someone you trust to become the executor of the estate, and both your healthcare power of attorney and durable power of attorney. All of these roles can be fulfilled by the same person if you prefer.
It is important to note that not everything goes through probate. Insurance policies and accounts with transfer-on-death beneficiary designations, for example, do not go through probate. Those pay out or transfer upon death. To help the probate process go smoothly, you may want to put together a file of all policies and accounts that will pay or transfer on death. You may also want to review who your beneficiary designations on these policies and accounts are and update them if necessary.
Once all your documents have been executed, make sure you keep your documents in a secure location. These documents include the original will, copies of the will, and copies of all other estate-related documents. Keep the executor of the estate informed on where these documents are being kept.
Finally, review your estate planning documents periodically. Your assets and relationships may change between the time you execute your will and the time it gets probated, so it is important to revisit your estate plan and update it accordingly.
If you need to create or reevaluate your estate planning documents, contact McNeelyLaw today at 317-825-5110 to talk to an experienced Indiana estate planning attorney.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.