Most people don’t have an estate plan. The average American doesn’t have one yet. They often know that they need an estate plan, but they still don’t develop one.
One of the reasons that people sometimes give is just that they don’t know where to start. They believe that estate planning is very confusing and complex, and they would get started if they just knew where to begin. But they don’t, so they put it off and assume they can figure it out later.
Listing your assets
If you’re not sure where to start, just begin by making a list of all the assets that you own. Yes, this list may change over time, but that’s why you can update your estate plan. Start by taking stock of everything that you have right now.
Examples of assets that are often address in estate plan include bank accounts, investment portfolios, family heirlooms and jewelry. Everyone has a unique set of assets that they want to pass on, and you’ll have a better understanding of how to make a plan once you know exactly what you need to consider.
Thinking about your goals
It’s also wise just to think about what goals you have for your estate plan. These may go beyond your financial assets. Perhaps one of your goals is to make sure that the right person has the authority to make your medical decisions for you if you can’t. You can do this with an advance directive and a power of attorney.
As you can see, the beginning of estate planning often just means considering what you want to accomplish rather than doing the paperwork. Once you have an idea of what you’d like to do with the plan, then you can begin looking into the legal steps you need to take to make that plan official.