Steps to Take When Considering Estate Planning

Steps to Take When Considering Estate Planning


Whenever someone passes away, they leave behind a legacy for their surviving friends and loved ones to remember them by. Part of this process includes whatever earthly possessions — their estate — that get divided among their heirs according to a will. However, if you have not set one up, your family members will have a very difficult time getting your affairs in order. That’s where a financial advisor with a strong understanding of estate planning in Tacoma, WA, like Stolz & Associates, P.S. can prove beneficial. 

Most people believe that simply writing out a will and testament will do enough to cover every possible outcome after you pass. However, the process is often more complicated than anticipated. Here are some of the steps you should take when considering estate planning:

Itemize Your Inventory

High-net-worth individuals’ asset portfolios feature a diverse array of properties, stocks, bonds, and more that represent their accumulated wealth. Knowing where your money has been invested and stored over the years helps make the planning process go smoother.

We often underestimate how much we have accumulated over the years. An itemized list helps you and your estate planners keep track of everything and makes dividing it among your heirs easier. 

Keep Track of the Intangible Assets

While we put our money into homes, cars, jewelry, artwork, and more, we also have a range of intangible assets representing a sizable portion of your wealth. These pieces of your financial portfolio include brokerage accounts, 401Ks, IRAs, bank accounts, and additional policies. Figuring out how you want these dispersed in the event of your passing becomes crucial for people looking to make the process easier for everyone involved. 

Know Your Debts

Before assigning who among your beneficiaries receives what, you have to cover your outstanding debts. Everything from outstanding auto loans, mortgages, home equity loans, and any beyond will need to be settled by your estate. A proper estate plan can help ensure that all your financial commitments are covered and that the remaining money goes exactly where you wish. 

Maintain a Membership List

Among your estate planning documents should include a list of any organizations you are a member of. AARP, The American Legion, various veterans organizations, college alumni groups, and more should be included in this list. Not only should they be notified of your passing, but in some cases, they offer benefits — like accidental life insurance — to their members at no to minimal extra cost that your designated beneficiaries may collect. 

These lists can also include charitable organizations close to your heart. Your beneficiaries can make memorial donations in your honor to leave one last impression. 

Have Multiple Copies

No matter the lists you have made, having additional copies of them will always be a good idea. If one gets misplaced, you know where you can find the most up-to-date version of it to make adjustments or verify the information you have on file is completely accurate. You can give the additional copies to your spouse if you have one or store them somewhere safe. 

Review the Retirement Accounts

When you open your long-term retirement accounts, you designate specific beneficiaries that will receive your benefits in the event of your passing. Since the assets pass outside of your will, it is important to review the beneficiary designations on these accounts regularly. 

Reviewing your retirement accounts with an estate planning attorney can prevent these issues from cropping up in the future. They can ensure your financial affairs are in order for your friends and family after your passing. 

Select a Professional Estate Executor

Having someone you trust to ensure everything gets distributed as you envisioned gives you peace of mind in the years you have left. Giving a person power of attorney can significantly impact how your estate gets divided among your beneficiaries. Sometimes it can be your spouse or another family member; however, sometimes, this route doesn’t go quite how you planned. 

If you don’t believe that a close family member can’t handle the responsibility, having a legal service you trust can handle executing your estate properly. 

Let Stolz & Associates Help With Your Estate Planning Needs

Planning for what happens with your money after you’re gone can be a difficult conversation to have. Knowing where you can turn for the financial advice you need to ensure your family has what they need and ensures a seamless financial transition becomes crucial to your future. Stolz & Associates, P.S. can help you answer your estate planning questions. 

We’ll walk you through the necessary steps to consider when you begin estate planning and ensure you have all of your bases covered. We work with our clients to get the clearest picture of their financial story and ensure their beneficiaries are taken care of. Contact us to schedule your first consultation today.