Documenting your plans and intentions can be difficult to talk about, but communication is key to leaving the legacy you want.
Estate planning is about making sure the things you’ve worked hard for go to the right people. And waiting until the last minute — or avoiding it altogether — doesn’t benefit anyone. Communicating your wishes ahead of time will help your loved ones with the transition and understand the why behind your decisions.
Engage in life: Estate planning is hard to do, but it can give you and your loved ones peace of mind.
There are four types of beneficiaries — known as the “4 Cs” — who can inherit your assets:
- Children (or other family members)
- Commonwealth (or the state)
Having your estate plan properly structured and documented makes sure the first three Cs — children, church, and charity — are taken care of when you pass. Without a plan in place, your assets may default to the state.
How to Get Started
Not sure where to begin? These five quick tips will help you start the estate planning process:
- Connect with a qualified professional. Estate planning is personal. There is no one-size-fits-all process that works for everyone. It’s important to work with someone who can tailor a plan to you.
If you already work with a financial advisor, ask if he or she can recommend a lawyer. You can also contact the York County Bar Association for referral resources.
- Take inventory of what you have. This includes listing family members, debts, sources of income, financial and bank accounts, titles and property deeds, insurance policies, Social Security information, account usernames and passwords, key contact information (e.g., financial advisors, religious contacts, etc.), and any other important information. Keep your will documents in a safe and secure location and let your loved ones know where it is.
- Create a will and cross-check it. Work with a qualified professional to draft your will. Make sure the name(s) designated in your will mirror the names tied to your financial accounts, insurance policies, etc.
Less than 50 percent of adults in the United States have a will, and that number drops significantly for low-income families or people of color. Everyone deserves a will, regardless of race or socio-economic status. The York County Bar Association Attorney Connection Program helps people from all walks of life connect with will and estate lawyers.
- Put legal documents in place. A power of attorney gives one or more people the power to make decisions on your behalf. It’s one of the most powerful estate planning moves you can make to protect yourself and your legacy.
An advance directive is another type of legal document that outlines medical wishes under specific circumstances (i.e., if you are incapacitated or unable to communicate). Learn more about healthy living and aging.
- Keep beneficiaries updated. Beneficiaries should be labeled correctly across all necessary documents (e.g., wills, insurance policies, etc.), and updated if and when they change.
Estate Planning is a Process
Estate planning is more than just a will. It’s an ongoing, strategic process. The market and government regulations are always changing; the plan you put in place today may not make sense in 5 or 10 years. That’s why it’s important to keep your estate, insurance, and financial planning aligned.
TroveStreet is Here to Help
Take advantage of our free TroveStreet Planning Tool, which you can access directly in your dashboard or download as a PDF. Want someone to walk you through it? Sign up for our Aging Navigation & Plan Creation package and a TroveStreet navigator will be by your side through the process.