Estate Planning Checklist: What to Do Before You Die

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Key Components of Estate Planning

Creating a Will: A will is a fundamental document that outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death. It allows you to appoint guardians for minor children and specify who inherits specific assets. Without a will, state laws will determine the distribution of your estate, which might not align with your wishes.

Establishing a Trust: Trusts offer greater control over how your assets are managed and distributed. They can help avoid probate, provide for minor children or dependents with special needs, and ensure privacy regarding your estate’s details.

Assigning Power of Attorney: A power of attorney allows you to designate someone to handle your financial and legal matters if you become incapacitated. This ensures that your affairs are managed by someone you trust.

Setting Healthcare Directives: Healthcare directives, including living wills and healthcare proxies, specify your medical care preferences if you cannot communicate your wishes. This can include decisions about life support, resuscitation, and organ donation.

Organizing Important Documents: It is crucial to keep all your essential documents, such as wills, trusts, power of attorney, and healthcare directives, organized and accessible. This ensures that your loved ones can easily find and execute your plans when needed.

Using Life Insurance and Annuities to Avoid Probate: Life insurance policies and annuities can be structured to bypass the probate process entirely. By naming beneficiaries directly on these accounts, you ensure that the assets transfer directly to your heirs without delay or legal complications. This provides immediate financial support to your loved ones and maintains privacy regarding the distribution of your estate.

Estate Planning Checklist

Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples

Creating Comprehensive Wills: Unmarried couples need to ensure that their wills clearly state their wishes regarding asset distribution, as they do not have the same automatic rights as married couples. This can prevent legal disputes and ensure that your partner receives the assets you intend for them.

Naming Beneficiaries on Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts: Unmarried couples should review and update beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. This ensures that your partner is directly named and can receive benefits without the need for probate.

Establishing Joint Tenancy: For property and significant assets, consider joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. This allows the surviving partner to automatically inherit the property without it going through probate.

Setting Up Trusts: Trusts can provide further protection and control over asset distribution. They can be tailored to meet specific needs, such as providing for your partner or managing assets for children from previous relationships.

Assigning Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Proxies: Designate each other as power of attorney and healthcare proxy to ensure that you can make financial and medical decisions on each other’s behalf if one becomes incapacitated.

How Life Insurance Can Enhance Your Estate Plan

Providing Financial Security: Life insurance provides immediate funds to your beneficiaries, ensuring their financial stability during a difficult time. It can cover daily living expenses, pay off debts, and maintain their standard of living.

Paying Estate Taxes and Debts: Life insurance can be used to pay estate taxes and debts, preventing the need to liquidate assets. This ensures that your heirs receive their inheritance intact.

Equalizing Inheritances: If you have multiple heirs with varying needs, life insurance can help equalize their inheritances. This is particularly useful in situations where certain assets, like a family business, are left to specific heirs.

Supporting Business Succession: For business owners, life insurance can fund buy-sell agreements, ensuring smooth business succession and providing liquidity to maintain operations.

How We Can Help

At The Annuity Expert, we understand the complexities and emotional weight of estate planning. Our mission is to help you find the best solutions at the lowest costs, ensuring peace of mind for you and your loved ones. With 15 years of experience as an insurance agency, annuity broker, and retirement planner, we are well-equipped to guide you through every step of the estate planning process.

We recognize that many face the core problem of uncertainty and the potential financial burden left on their loved ones. Symptoms of this problem include stress, confusion about legal and financial matters, and the risk of unintended asset distribution. We empathize with your concerns and are dedicated to providing clear, expert advice to alleviate these issues.

Estate Planning Checklist 2023

What We Recommend

  • Step 1: Initial Consultation Contact us for a free initial consultation. During this meeting, we will discuss your current estate planning needs, goals, and any concerns you may have. The main benefit of this step is gaining a clear understanding of your situation and how we can help.
  • Step 2: Developing Your Estate Plan We will create a customized estate plan tailored to your specific needs. This includes drafting wills, setting up trusts, designating powers of attorney, and more. The main benefit is having a comprehensive, legally sound plan that reflects your wishes.
  • Step 3: Implementation and Review We assist in executing your estate plan and offer regular reviews to ensure it remains current with any changes in your life or the law. The main benefit is ongoing peace of mind, knowing your plan is up-to-date and effective.

Common Objections and Our Responses:

  • “I don’t need an estate plan yet.” Estate planning is crucial at any stage of life to protect your assets and loved ones.
  • “It’s too expensive.” We offer cost-effective solutions to ensure you get the best value for your investment.
  • “I can do it myself.” Professional guidance ensures your plan is legally sound and comprehensive, avoiding costly mistakes.

Without a proper estate plan, your assets may not be distributed as you wish, leading to potential legal battles, increased taxes, and financial burdens for your loved ones. By working with us, you secure a clear, legally binding plan that provides financial security and peace of mind.

Contact us today for free advice or a free quote. Let The Annuity Expert guide you through the estate planning process, ensuring your legacy is protected, and your loved ones are cared for.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the five components of estate planning?

Asset inventory, beneficiary designations, will or trust, power of attorney, and healthcare directive.

What should be included in a will checklist?

Executor, beneficiaries, assets, debts, and distribution.

What makes a good estate plan?

Customized, comprehensive, flexible, up-to-date, and communicated.

What is an estate planning checklist?

List of tasks to complete for a comprehensive estate plan.

What are some examples of estate planning?

Will, trust, power of attorney, healthcare directive, gifting.

What are the four must-have documents?

Will, durable power of attorney, healthcare directive, and living will.

What are the two key documents used to prepare an estate plan?

Will and trust.

What should I avoid in a will?

Ambiguity, mistakes, and incomplete information.

What are the most important things to put in a will?

Executor, beneficiaries, assets, debts, and distribution.

What are the seven steps of preparing a will?

Gather information, choose an executor, list beneficiaries, designate asset distribution, name a guardian, draft and sign, and store safely.

What is an estate planning worksheet?

A form to gather and organize personal and financial information.

What documents do I need to put my affairs in order?

Will, power of attorney, healthcare directive, and trust (if applicable).

What assets should be considered when planning your estate?

Real estate, investments, retirement accounts, personal property, and life insurance.

What should be on a list of assets?

Bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, real estate, and personal property.

What are some examples of assets that can be left to beneficiaries?

Cash, investments, real estate, and personal property.

At what age do most people do estate planning?

Age 55 or older.

What are the essential factors to consider in estate planning?

Family, assets, taxes, and health.

What are the three main priorities you want to ensure with your estate plan?

Control, protection, and distribution of assets.

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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