8 Key Estate Planning Tips You Should Know in Arizona
Are you thinking about planning for the future? Here are a few of the most important estate planning tips to keep in mind in Arizona.
Look back on the major events of your life.
Graduating high school. Getting that promotion. Buying your first house.
Through it all, you've had to do a lot of planning to make it happen. So, why is it that too many people don't plan for the event of their death?
While it's an unsavory topic to think about, estate planning is crucial so that once you pass, your assets pass on smoothly to your beneficiaries.
By neglecting your estate planning until it's too late, you may be leaving your loved ones with a huge set of red tape to untangle.
So, read on to discover 8 key estate planning tips that you should know, especially if you live in Arizona!
1. Inventory Your Assets as part of your estate plan
You'll be able to save your loved ones a lot of time and effort by doing a thorough inventory of all of your assets and belongings before you start your estate plan.
Go through your major physical assets and document them along with how much they are worth. These assets may include houses, vehicles, jewelry, or more.
Essentially, you want to ensure that your loved ones don't lose track or forget about anything valuable.
This also goes for non-physical assets such as bank accounts and investments. You should look at all financial assets, including life insurance policies, retirement accounts and any other accounts that generate income.
Take it a step further by adding beneficiaries to all your accounts so your loved ones will not have to go through probate court.
2. Inventory Your Debts
In a similar vein, it's important to document any outstanding debts that you may owe. These debts could be a mortgage, car payment, or any other outstanding payments.
Consolidate this information with any relevant documentation, such as the contact information of who you owe the money to.
This way, your loved ones will be able to evaluate how much money they're responsible for paying off.
3. Consolidate Your Accounts
If you've changed jobs several times over the course of your life, you may have several 401k accounts through different employers. The principle applies if you've opened many savings accounts or checking accounts for different purposes.
For the sake of organization and simplicity, it may be worth rolling over any accounts or money and consolidating them when possible.
This will make the process of estate planning much more simple going forward. You may even find that this gives you better rates or investment options.
4. Update Your Beneficiaries or Trustee
If you have several insurance policies or accounts in which you needed to list a beneficiary, you should call them and ensure that that information is up-to-date. Add beneficiary or beneficiaries to any account. Consider adding contingent beneficiaries as well.
Perhaps you want to include your grandchildren who weren't yet born when the policy was set up. Perhaps you need to take off a spouse who has passed.
In any case, you'll want to make sure that the right people receive the payouts from those accounts.
If you have a Trust make sure your trustee or trustees are correctly updated.
5. Write a Last Will and Testament
This step may seem obvious, but many people neglect to write a will. Contact a Will Attorney and have them help you with your Last Will and Testament.
A Last Will and Testament outlines your wishes and who should receive what assets after you pass. Having an up-to-date Will ensure that your wishes are honored and there is no confusion about the distribution of your assets.
You can do more than divide up your assets; you can also leave money to charity or designate who should take care of your pets.
An estate planning lawyer will make sure that there aree witnesses present when you sign Will and they will have it notarized. Also, ensure that the location of your will is known by your family and can be easily accessed after your death.
If this is a step that you have already completed, it may be worth revisiting and updating. You should revisit your will every few years to ensure it remains in line with current information.
6. Select an Estate Administrator for your estate plan
You'll want to select an estate administrator or executor who will be in charge of carrying out your will once you pass.
This individual should be someone that you trust and who is generally responsible. Often, people pick a close family member or friend who can remain neutral to the will's contents.
Your estate administrator should be aware of their role and know where all of your important documents are located.
7. Explain Your Wishes
Some people want a religious burial, others a cremation. Consider how you would like your loved ones to handle a funeral or end-of-life celebration and make that information known.
It isn't uncommon for people to pick out their cemetery plots or caskets on their own. Not only will this ensure that you get what you want, but it also saves your loved ones from having to go through this process while grieving.
It's also possible to buy multiple plots at the cemetery if you want to be buried next to your spouse or near a family member. While it seems odd to buy these plots in advance, you'll be stress-free knowing that your spot is secured.
8. Hire an Estate Planning Attorney
Finally, hiring an estate planning attorney will help you optimize your finances and take advantage of the full benefits of your accounts.
Especially if you have a more complicated estate, like a blended family situation for example, an estate attorney will help walk you through the process of planning your estate and will be able to ensure that you're making the best decisions for your situation.
Don't Neglect Estate Planning
It's human nature to procrastinate tasks that are cumbersome or sad, but don't let estate planning be one of those. It is usually sad to think about when you die.
By neglecting your estate planning, you're signing your family up for a lot of responsibility and confusion once you're gone.