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How To Begin Estate Planning
Last week, we sent an email explaining why you need a will. Now you know that you need a will, but how do you begin the process?
Start by setting a deadline. We all know how life can get in the way. Plan to have it done by the end of the year or by your next birthday or anniversary.
Gather your financial information. Make a spreadsheet of your assets, their market values, any debts against them, the resulting net values and how they are titled. Gather any related deeds, statements, and documents. Your assets include your home and any other real estate; any titled property (such as vehicles or boats); bank accounts; stocks, bonds, mutual funds and investment accounts; business interests; personal assets such as antiques, artwork and jewelry. Also, include your debts (credit cards, personal loans and unsecured lines of credit). Be honest about your financial information. We can only plan using the information you provide. If you provide incomplete information, you will have an incomplete plan.
Make a list of all the people you want to inherit from you. Include their full legal names, dates of birth, current addresses and how they are related to you. Consider whether you want to include a charitable, educational or religious organization.
Think about how and when you want these people and/or organizations to inherit from you. Some people like to distribute the full inheritance right away, others in installments. Still others prefer keeping the inheritance in a trust where it will be protected from creditors, divorce, and irresponsible spending.
Think about who you want to be the executor of your will or trustee of your trust. The person you choose to take on this responsibility should be someone you trust, whose judgment you respect, and who will honor your wishes. If you don’t feel like you have good candidates (because they live too far away, they’re too busy or they aren’t responsible enough), consider a professional to be your executor or trustee.
Think about who you want to make health care decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself and if you have specific instructions about your care.
Keep in mind that estate planning is a process. It may take several meetings to get your estate plan in place. You will also need to update your plan from time to time as your situation changes over your lifetime.
Remember that you do not have to make these decisions on your own. We are experienced at estate planning, and we have the technical expertise and legal knowledge to help you with all of your estate planning needs.
Please call us today at (212) 867-0707 to discuss your estate planning needs.
Have a great weekend.
Michael E. Breslin, CPA, MS, Esq.
The FulServ Group LLC
250 West 57th Street, Suite 816
New York, NY 10107
Phone: (212) 867-0707
Fax: (212) 867-0770