A Checklist for Planning, Preparing & Updating Your Estate Plan

Estate planning is an important task that ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and that your loved ones are taken care of after you are gone. Below is a checklist that will help you think about key issues when you are beginning the estate planning process or considering whether you need to revise your current documents.

Set Your Goals

Determine your priorities for distributing your assets and providing for your loved ones, including your spouse, children, grandchildren, and charitable organizations.

Assess Your Current Estate Plan

Review any existing Wills, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, and other estate planning documents. Evaluate whether your current plan still aligns with your goals, circumstances, and wishes. For example, has your family or financial situation changed?

Identify Your Assets and Debts

List all your assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, valuable possessions, and digital assets.

Make note of any outstanding debts or liabilities.

Choose Beneficiaries and Executors

Designate beneficiaries for your assets, such as family members, friends, or charitable organizations.

Select an executor to handle your estate and ensure your wishes are carried out.

Consider Trusts

Evaluate whether a trust is necessary to provide for minor children or beneficiaries with special needs.

Select a trustee to manage the trust.

Appoint Guardians for Minor Children

If you have minor children, appoint guardians to care for them in case both parents pass away.

Review Beneficiary Designations on Non-Probate Accounts

Check and update beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other assets to ensure they align with your current wishes. Also, remember that if you do not name a beneficiary, those types of accounts become estate assets and may be subject to inheritance taxes.

Plan for Incapacity by Drafting a Power of Attorney

Select an agent for a Power of Attorney to designate someone to handle your financial affairs.

Determine whether you want the Power of Attorney to go into effect immediately or only if you become incapacitated.

Consider Advance Directives Such as Living Wills & Healthcare Powers of Attorney

Create a Living Will outlining your preferences for medical treatments in case you’re unable to communicate your wishes.

Prepare a Healthcare Power of Attorney to allow someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

Organize Your Documents

Keep your estate planning documents in a safe and accessible location. Our office will provide you with a handy folio to store your estate planning documents and other important papers.

Make Sure the People Who Will Help Know Where Your Documents Are

Inform your loved ones about the location of these documents and how to access them when needed.

Perform Regular Reviews of Your Estate Plan

Set a schedule to review and update your estate plan periodically, especially after major life events such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death.

Seek Professional Help When Creating Your Estate Plan

Consult our law office to ensure your documents are legally valid and accurately reflect your wishes. Don’t rely on Internet forms to give you the guidance you need for these important documents (there is a reason they state that they are not providing legal advice). When a professional prepares your estate plan, it will be tailored to your specific circumstances.

Call our office at (610) 446-3457, send an email, or fill out the form below, and we will respond promptly. We look forward to working with you and ensuring that your estate is structured exactly how you want.