If you die without a will and other estate planning documents, your assets become subject to probate and the laws of your state. The state has no idea about your family dynamics and your personal wishes, but your assets will become subject to state law unless you plan for how you want your estate to be handled prior to your death.
To get started with the estate planning process, there are several steps you should take:
- Create a list of all your usernames and passwords for everything from your gym membership and streaming services to your health insurance portals and social media accounts.
- Take an inventory of all of your assets, including your savings accounts, investments, real estate property, businesses, and any possessions of either financial or sentimental value.
- Put together a list of your debts, so your heirs will have a better idea of what they will inherit.
- Make sure that all your advanced directives are complete and updated so that if you become terminally ill or injured, your healthcare providers and family members will know which medical treatments you do or do not want.
- Work with an estate planning attorney to create a will.
- Check your life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other accounts with a listed beneficiary to make sure your designations are all up to date.
Make sure you review your estate planning documents every three to five years or after any major life event. You should also make sure that a trusted person knows where these documents are, so they can be found and act on your behalf as soon as possible in the event of an emergency or your death.