Here are 12 important estate planning tips that will make the estate planning process both easier and more complete for you and your family.
1. Make it more than just about the money. Leave specific sentimental gifts to loved ones. Write love letters and include photos of you with those you love. These will be the most cherished of inheritances.
2. Update your estate plan every three to five years.
3. Have fun with your estate plan. For example, plan a wake (i.e. a party in celebration of your life) and have your trustee send balloons to your neighbors thanking them for being there for you over the years.
4. Keep all of your important papers and documents together with your estate planning documents. And, let your family members know where you keep them.
5. Encourage your adult children to do their own estate planning.
6. If you have minor children, be sure to include a child care power of attorney and first responder authorization in your estate plan.
7. Attend trustee training or other seminars presented by your estate planning attorney with your trusted helpers (i.e. executors, trustees, guardians, and power of attorney agents.)
8. Ask questions. Your estate planning attorney welcomes your questions and concerns. Your legal fee will not increase because you ask questions.
9. Keep an up to date list of your online and telephone user names and passwords with your important papers and estate planning documents.
10. Prepare a list of people to be contacted upon your death.
11. Any legal fees associated with tax planning are deductible for federal income tax purposes as tax related advice.
12. When questioned, assure your minor children that they will be safe and cared for should anything happen to you.
If you have any questions or concerns about these estate planning tips, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.