Whether you already have a will or have yet to begin creating one, it’s important to be proactive about your legacy planning by covering a few basics in writing. To get started, resolve to tackle the following important estate and trust planning milestones for 2020.
Milestone 1: Assign a health care power of attorney.
Anyone can suddenly have an accident or become severely ill. If you can’t make medical decisions for yourself, who should? How should they handle important choices? (For example: questions about life support, CPR and organ donation.) Also establish a financial power of attorney — someone trustworthy to manage your money if you can’t.
Milestone 2: Review account beneficiaries.
You can help ensure a smooth transfer of certain assets by logging into your financial accounts and designating transfer-on-death beneficiaries. This allows heirs to receive your assets without going through probate. (Just double-check state guidelines to find the most up-to-date information.)
Milestone 3: Draft a basic will.
Who should receive the family silver, grandma’s ring and other heirlooms? Who should inherit your home and vehicle? Who will care for your pets? If you’re married, make arrangements that account for both of you. If you have children, nominate guardians for their care. Consider any necessary trust planning for protect minors and your assets.
Milestone 4: Arrange for your wishes to be carried out.
Your doctor and at least one close friend or family member should have a copy of your health care power of attorney. Inform your beneficiaries so they can claim their inherited assets. Finally, be sure to name a will executor and an alternate.
You can make changes in the future, but officially sharing your most important wishes now is better than nothing. And remember: The possible stress involved with putting your affairs in order this year will pay off with the peace of mind you’ll have later.
There you have it, the top four estate and trust planning milestones for 2020 to help get your legacy planning in order.
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