4 Steps to Making an Estate Plan

Creating an estate plan is essential so that you can make sure that your beneficiaries are taken care of if you pass away. Here are some of the necessary steps that could be involved in making an estate plan.

1. Estate Planning Software

There are a number of different estate planning software programs on the market today. Some of them can be very beneficial when trying to come up with an estate plan. While they may not make a good substitute for an estate planning attorney, they can help you get the process started. For example, many of these software programs will ask you very detailed questions. The software can then print out this information in an easy-to-read format for your lawyer to use. The average lawyer fee is $150 an hour. By using this software, you will at least be able to skip part of the process with an attorney and save significant money. 

2. Prepare Will

One of the most important steps in the estate planning process is to prepare your will. If you do not create a will, your estate is going to have to go through a detailed probate process. The process of creating a will is going to allow you to designate exactly who you want to get all of your assets whenever you pass away. This way, there will be no question as to who gets what when you die. If your family members have to go through an extensive probate court process, much of the estate could be lost in legal fees. Your family will also have to waste significant time in order to complete that process. If you have young children, it is also important that you designate who their guardians would be if you pass away. This can easily be done with a standard will.

3. Notarize the Will

Before your will can be validated, it has to be notarized first. The process of properly notarizing a will is going to depend on which state you live in. Most of the time, witnesses have to be present whenever you sign the will. Each state requires a different number of witnesses to view the signing as well. Make sure that you are doing this properly so that your will can be upheld in probate.

4. Gather Important Documents

At this point, you should gather up all of your important estate planning documents. Make sure that your will, your health care proxy, a durable power of attorney, and any other documents that you have are in one place. You might want to consider putting these in a safety deposit box at your bank. Make sure that your estate executor knows exactly where all of these documents are so that they can easily access them whenever you pass away. Otherwise, it could be difficult for your family members to sort through your affairs after your death.


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