A Simple Estate Planning Checklist – The Three P’s of Estate Planning in Maryland
Serving clients in the four counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, and Anne Arundel
Estate Planning Checklist Item #1 – People
Our simple estate planning checklist begins with identifying who the Important People are in your life. Beginning with yourself, they also likely include your loved ones: your spouse if you are married, children and grandchildren if you have any, perhaps your parents, siblings or other relatives. Beyond these, however, “Important People” also could include charities, special causes, colleges or universities, or churches to which you are committed. For some, “Important People” could even include pets. Spend some time thinking about the impact others have had on your life. Make a list and jot notes if you like to start your plan. Read more about how to prepare the people in your life for planning in our blog post on: Have a Family Estate Plan Meeting.
Estate Planning Checklist Item #2 – Property
By Property our estate planning lawyers mean your assets in general. Make a list of the assets you own or control. At this point, you do not need to identify insurance policy numbers and exact dollar values. Rather think through your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.); their value in thousands of dollars; and your ownership interest: Do you own assets in your name only, in joint tenancy with someone else, or through a trust agreement or some other arrangement? Be sure to include often-overlooked assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests, digital assets, and any inheritance you may expect to receive.
Estate Planning Checklist Item #3 – Plans
After identifying the Important People in your life and your Property, the next step is to consider the plans you would make for those people (including yourself) and that Property in the event of your own incapacity or death.
Who would you name to make decisions for you if you could no longer do so yourself? Would the same person handle your finances and your personal and health care decisions? Who would care for your minor children? How would you distribute your assets to your heirs? Would you prefer to spare your heirs the potential cost and hassles of the probate process? Would you like to minimize the impact of estate taxes … or maximize the impact of a charitable bequest? Is there someone in your family with special needs for whom you would like to provide? Is there someone who perhaps should not receive a great deal of (or any) money without some outside oversight?
These are just a few of the issues to consider in the process when you are ready to start your plan. They are much more important than the “treasure hunt” for legal documents at this stage.
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