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Estate planning is important for everyone. While there may be a pervasive misconception that estate planning is only for the old or for the rich, this is dangerously false. Estate planning is important because even if you do not have assets of great financial value, it is likely you have assets rich in sentimental value that you would want left in the hands of the right people. Furthermore, estate planning is important for all of us because it goes far beyond planning for asset distribution. A comprehensive estate plan also contains provisions for incapacity planning. None of us are immune to aging, illness, or accidents. Because of this, planning for what may be on your health and well-being horizon is critical. To give you a better picture of why estate planning is so important, we want to walk you through some of the things that should be on your estate planning checklist.

What Should Be On Your Estate Planning Checklist

Before you even begin putting estate planning documents in place, there are other things that should be accomplished first. For instance, you should take inventory of your estate. Everything you own, the big, the little, and everything in between, is considered part of your estate. Take stock of what you own and what you would want to end up in the hands of a specific person after you pass. While this may seem a daunting task, staying organized and making a list of your assets can be a great help. In addition to listing your assets, your inventory should also value these assets.

You should also gather and organize your most recent financial statements from everything ranging from bank accounts to investment accounts. Additionally, life insurance policy information should be gathered and noted on your inventory. On the inventory, note the cash value of your accounts and whether any death beneficiaries are listed on them, and, if so, who those beneficiaries are. Beyond assets, your inventory should also include a list of all of your outstanding debts. This includes things like a mortgage on your home.

After your inventory is complete, the next item on your estate planning checklist should be determining which estate planning tools will best serve your goals and best interests. For instance, should you have a will, a trust, or both in place? If avoiding probate is a priority for you, then you will likely want to lean more towards the use of a trust. If asset protection is also a concern of yours, then a trust is also most likely to serve your purposes.

You should also consider putting a durable power of attorney in place during your estate planning process. A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint a selected person as your agent who can take over management of your financial and legal affairs should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to manage these things for yourself. This document is important even if you are in the best of health because you never know when an accident or a sudden illness may render you incapacitated. A durable power of attorney can help negate the need for a guardianship or conservatorship to be established.

A healthcare power of attorney as well as a living will should also be on your estate planning checklist. A healthcare power of attorney appoints an agent who can make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you ever be incapacitated or declared incompetent. A living will, on the other hand, outlines which healthcare actions should be taken or not taken in the event that you are suffering from a terminal condition and are unable to communicate such critical choices for yourself.

Florida Estate Planning Attorney

Do not delay in establishing a comprehensive estate plan. Verras Law is here to help you with this. Contact Verras Law today.