What is an estate?
An estate is all the property that you own; examples include:
- Real estate
- Bank accounts
- Stocks and other securities
- Life insurance policies
- Personal property (e.g., cars, jewelry)
Estate planning is simply determining who you want to receive your estate after you die. It is a way to map out your wishes and plans for your finances, family, and legacy. It is not just for the wealthy. Most people have assets that require planning ahead.
Calculator: Investing in Real Estate
How to do estate planning
- Write a will
- Create a trust if necessary
- Make a living will (health care directive, who can make medical decisions for you once you can’t)
- Assign a power of attorney
- Consider life insurance
- Plan for the future of your business
- Collect and safely store all documents and account information
- Plan your funeral
Why is it important?
Estate planning is essential to ensure that your family will be taken care of in the future and is a great way to plan for the unexpected. Not only will it help avoid family disputes down the line, but with estate planning you can also provide for family and save money for your partner/the upbringing and education of your children.
Where do I start?
- Define your goals—What do you want to happen? How will your property be distributed? Who will handle your estate? Are you are affected by estate taxes?
- Gather financial data—Gather your documents. Review your beneficiary selections.
- Analyze and discuss—Talk to a professional advisor or estate planner. Talk about what your existing estate plan looks like.
- Develop estate strategies—What works best for your circumstances? Start to create your estate plan.
- Implement plan—Review, edit, and sign estate planning documents.
- Monitor progress—Check your estate plan annually or whenever your family situation changes.
- Famous Americans who have died without a will include Sonny Bono, Pablo Picasso, Bob Marley, Prince, Kurt Cobain, John Denver, Chris Farley, Howard Hughes, and Martin Luther King Jr.
- The shortest known wills are only three words, e.g., “all to son” and “all to wife.”
- The longest will was 1,066 pages and 95,940 words.