6 Step Checklist for Estate Planning

A Guide To Preparing for the Future

It’s important to understand that wills and trusts are not just for the wealthy, the elderly or the infirm. You likely have worldly possessions that need to be distributed after your death but who takes care of your debts if you become ill and can’t do it yourself? Here is a checklist for helping you prepare for the future as well as the here and now.

  1. Draw up a Will. Every adult needs a will. It allows you to control the distribution of your possessions to family members, friends, and/or any charities that you want to support. You should meet with an attorney to help advise you in drafting a will so that you are fully informed of North Carolina laws and what happens to your estate once you die. If you have young children, you will want to specify a Guardian for them and provide the means to support them. See “Consider setting up a trust,” below.
  2. Get Powers of Attorney (POA). You may want to appoint one or more trusted individuals to oversee your personal property and real estate so that your property is properly managed and debts are paid in the event you become incapacitated. Your lawyer will likely advise you to name a primary POA as well as an alternate in case the primary is unable to serve. You can also appoint someone to speak to medical providers on your behalf if you become unable to communicate with them yourself.
  3. Get a Living Will. A living will tells the State and, more specifically, the Courts, what treatments you would want provided or withheld if you are ever unable to speak or make decisions for yourself. A Living Will may prevent you from being connected to life support against your wishes and it prevents your loved ones from having to make the agonizing decision when to have it disconnected.
  4. Review your Will and Powers of Attorney every few years. A few examples of instances in which you’ll want to review those documents and very likely update them are: purchasing more property; having more children; or changing marital status (getting married, divorced or remarrying).
  5. Consider setting up a trust. A trust is an excellent way for you to continue providing for your family after you’re gone. Your attorney can advise you on what assets can be placed in a trust under State and Federal law as well as when and how much of the trust is distributed. Your attorney will also advise you in selecting a Trustee.
  6. Discuss your intentions with your loved ones. Someone will need to be “in charge” if anything happens to you, meaning they need to know how to contact your attorney and where to find your will. Being open about your decisions with your family and loved ones may also prevent a family squabble when each member of your family is clear about who gets what.

Your attorney will help guide you through the intricacies of estate planning, especially where State and Federal law are concerned. To get started planning your estate and preparing for your family’s future, contact IMGT today.