Why You MUST Make Estate Planning & Preparation a Priority!
If the unthinkable happens, you don’t want your family to be left making lots of tough decisions, so that’s why estate planning preparation is so important. You want to make sure your affairs are in order to make things less stressful for your loved ones.
What Exactly is Estate Planning Preparation?
Estate planning preparation outlines how a person’s assets will be managed and distributed after death. Here at My LifeJars, we're sure you understand how important it is to get your affairs in order before you die.
If you're like most, you really DO have every intention on getting this done.
You know... Just in case of an unforeseen tragedy.
However, you're probably putting it off until you have some extra time on in you schedule. Which, by the way, in our experience never happens unless you make time! On this page we are giving EVERYTHING you need to know to sit down and GET IT DONE!
Before you continue reading, make a promise to yourself that you are going to use the FREE tools & resources provided below to get your affairs in order by the end of THIS WEEK!
A few of the key pieces involved in estate planning & preparation include:
Use this Checklist
As you can see, a lot goes into estate planning preparation. We realize it can get a bit overwhelming. However, if you follow this checklist, you'll be sure you have everything covered. AND... we'll give you some tips further down this page on how to keep it all organized, safe and secure!
Itemize your assets
Start making a list of all of your valuable items in your home. For example, the actual house, jewelry, collectibles, vehicles, computers, tools, lawn equipment, etc. You might also want to add names next to items you might want someone specific to have after you die.
Add non-physical assets
This list includes bank accounts, 401(k) plans, IRAs, brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, and other policies like homeowners, auto, disability, and health insurance. You should list your account numbers and where the documents for these items are stored.
Make a list of debts
Make a separate list of all the money you owe and who you owe it to. Include your credit cards, auto loans, home mortgage, and any home equity lines of credit. Again, make sure to list the account numbers and where the documents for these accounts are located.
Write your first draft
Once you have an outline and all your research, take a shot at writing a first draft. No, it won’t be perfect. Yes, it will probably be long and tough. But, it will give you insight on how you really want your story to be told. With My LifeJars you can choose a particular memory to write about, from any part of your life and build your draft in bite-size pieces. This can make it easier than starting at the beginning and running out of steam!
Include a membership list
If you belong to any groups, like AARP, a veteran’s association, an alumni group, or any other organization, make a list of those. In many cases, these organizations might offer accidental life insurance benefits that would be available to your beneficiaries. You can also include groups you would want to give charitable donations to in the event of your death.
Copy your lists
You should sign and date all of these lists when they are complete. You should also make copies to give to anyone who might need to handle your affairs after you’re gone. You’ll also want to store them online with My LifeJars.
Review retirement accounts
Get a list of all of your current beneficiaries on your retirement accounts. Make sure these are all current, since you might have multiple accounts. This is especially important if you are divorced and/or remarried..
Update your insurance
This is similar to your retirement accounts, in that this passes on to your beneficiaries. So, make sure your list is up-to-date.
Set up transfer on death designations
If you leave someone something in your will, it has to go through probate. This can be a long process. However, bank accounts, CDs, and brokerage accounts don’t need to go through probate. You can set them up with transfer on death designations to go right to your beneficiaries instead of being tied up in probate.
Choose an executor
Think about who you want to be responsible for administering your will after you die. If you think your spouse would be too emotional to handle it, pick someone else you can trust.
Draft your will
If you’re over 18, you should have a last will and testament. This legal document spells out what your wishes are when you die. It outlines who you want to get your assets after you’re gone and how your property should be managed. If you have children and pets, your will addresses who will take care of them. You can write this on your own, or seek the help of a lawyer.
Review it regularly
Don't forget, to make sure ALL of your legal documents... such as your will, your enduring power of attorney, your health care proxy, and enduring guardian, are updated at least every three years. Or, if you go through a major life event. This could be a divorce, marriage, or birth of a child, you should make updates then.
Make copies for your executor
You need to make sure your executor has a copy of your completed will. You should also have an extra copy stored somewhere safe. My LifeJar is a perfect place to store your important legal estate planning preparation documents.
Consult an estate planning attorney
Even if you go through this checklist and think you have everything covered, it’s best to talk with a lawyer who knows all the rules. It’s better to have peace of mind, then be left wondering if you have everything in order before you die.
Consolidate your finances
If you’ve worked for several employers, you might have more than one 401(k) account. It might be easier to consolidate them all into one. This would mean less paperwork and easier management.
Complete other important documents
A will is the most important document you need when completing your estate planning preparation. You should also consider an enduring power of attorney, a health care proxy, an enduring guardian, and advance care directives. It is up to you how many of these you choose to complete, but it makes things much easier on your loved ones after you die if you have everything documented.
Why Is Estate Planning Preparation So Important?
We understand that thinking about dying and planning for life after your death are not fun things to consider. However, it’s so important to plan ahead and protect yourself and your family. You don’t want to cause extra stress by not having done your estate planning preparation ahead of time.
Here are 4 reasons why estate planning preparation is important:
1Protects your beneficiaries - If you don’t have a plan in place, the court can decide who gets your assets. Wouldn’t you rather put your wishes in writing and make sure your loved ones get the items you want them to have?
2Protects your children - It’s important to have a last will and testament and name guardians for your young children. You don’t want a court deciding who will raise your children. Make sure you make that choice. -It’s important to have a last will and testament and name guardians for your young children. You don’t want a court deciding who will raise your children. Make sure you make that choice.
3Eliminates big tax fees - Estate planning preparation is key to helping protect your heirs from fees from the IRS. Having a plan in place lessens the amount of taxes your loved ones would have to pay.
4Prevents family fights - If you have everything spelled out in your estate plan, there is no wiggle room. You clearly tell your family who you want to inherit what, and this can eliminate the need for fights over your assets.
#EstatePlanning can get a bit overwhelming. However, if you follow the My LifeJars #checklist, you'll be sure you have everything covered. AND... we even give you some tips on how to keep it all organized, safe, & secure! #mylifejars
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How to Choose the Right Lawyer
As you probably already know, there are all kinds of attorneys out there. It’s important to choose the right one to help you with your estate planning preparation. You want someone who specializes in estate planning, which will ensure they know everything you need to do to protect yourself and your family.
Here are some of our best tips on how to pick the right estate planning preparation lawyer:
- Think about what you want out of your estate plan. Then, begin searching for candidates who specialize in what you need. Ask friends and family for their recommendations. Read reviews online. Research the attorney’s background. Look at their social media accounts. Make sure you cover all your bases.
- Once you have a list of potential estate planning preparation candidates, ask them each for an interview. They might charge for this meeting, so be sure to ask about that up front. Prepare a list of questions to take to your meeting. Make sure you find the right fit for you. It’s OK to talk to multiple people. Just trust your instincts and go with who you feel comfortable with.
- Make sure you understand each lawyer’s fees. Some might charge for initial meetings, some might not. It’s important you have a detailed idea of how much each potential lawyer would cost. This will help you narrow your choices and make you feel confident you know what you’re getting and what you’re paying for it.
Storing Your Estate Planning Preparation Documents In One Place
As much as we don’t like to think about dying, it’s important to make sure everything is in order for the family we leave behind. That’s where we step in to help. My LifeJars offers you a safe and secure online place to store everything your family needs when you’re no longer with them.
Our app is the perfect place to organize and share all of your important estate planning preparation documents, like your last will and testament, your advance care directive, your health care proxy, your enduring power of attorney, and your enduring guardian. We make it simple for you to give access to all the people who will need this information in the future.
What Are the Benefits of My LifeJars?
My LifeJars offers a basic account that is free forever and never expires, as long as you are active and assign a My LifeJars Guardian.
With this basic account store 24 memories, 24 things, 16 passwords upload file sizes up to 10MB and access 2GB of data storage. Create a life profile for yourself as well as for 4 other family members or friends and 4 legacies.
Only switch to a Gold paid account if you want to add unlimited memories, things & passwords, unlimited life profiles & legacies, upload file sizes up to 500MB including videos and store 200GB of data across all the profiles and legacies you create.
The My LifeJars app offers the following benefits:
- Encrypted data - very advanced and multiple layered cryptographic protection.
- Safety and security - access and review your information anywhere in the world with secure authentication.
- No advertising - you will not be shown any ads from third party platforms while using the app.
- Supports giving - My LifeJars donates 10% of annual subscriptions to our Partners, which you select to support.