Drafting a will may be the first thing you think of when estate planning, but there is much more to do. Estate planning involves accounting for your assets and creating smooth transfers to the correct people. There aren’t any requirements for estates to go through probate, but probate court implements a will’s provision in Texas. Your friends and family should understand your wishes before your death. Creating a checklist of things to do for your estate is a way to cover your bases.
1. Itemize all inventory
Make a list of all valuable items to start dealing with estate planning, probate and guardianships. Valuable items to list include vehicles, jewelry, collectibles, electronics, art and antiques. Don’t forget to add your home and other real estate holdings to the list. Write notes next to items when you know who you want to have them. Be sure to add non-tangible assets after the physical ones.
2. Assemble all debts
Make a list of all open credit cards or other obligations, which includes auto loans, lines of credit and mortgages. Be sure to include account numbers, contact information and the location of signed agreements for the companies holding the debt. Mark the credit cards that are most often in use. Always make copies of the lists.
3. Review your retirement accounts
The designated beneficiaries on policies and accounts will receive the specified assets after you die. A person can direct asset distribution in their will, but a retirement account’s instructions will take precedence. Contacting the employer’s customer service helps you get the current beneficiaries for each account.
4. Simplify your finances
People may change jobs over the years and end up with several different 401(k) retirement plans open with past employers. People with several 401(k) plans or IRAs may want to consolidate the accounts into an individual IRA. A single IRA account allows you to make better investment choices and lowers costs.
Procrastination is the enemy of estate planning. Writing a will is a large part of estate planning, but there are many other things to do. A properly prepared estate plan may lower the risk of family disputes after your death. Without a proper plan, an estate could pay more taxes and court fees.