If getting your estate planning documents together is one of your goals for 2021, there are several simple steps of review, collection and reflection you can take now to reach that goal early in 2021. First, review your asset and debts and put together a simple list, which should include just the type of asset and the approximate value. In addition to your home, your investment accounts, and retirement accounts, be sure to include your out of state property, life insurance, and any business or partnership interest you may have.
Next, make a copy of your important papers, such as birth certificates, deeds, car registration, a list of passwords, and even copies of bank and investment statements. Be sure the original documents are in a safe, fire-proof location. Not only is it a good idea to have all of these important papers in one place, but a review of them will ensure that you have included everything on your asset list in step one. Put with your important papers the contact information for your family members. Easy access to contact information is especially important for families that are spread out nationally and internationally, as many Huntsville families are.
Finally, spend a few minutes reflecting on your unique family situations, for example, whether you or your extended family members have blended families, stepchildren, step-grandchildren, divorce, adoption, or non-traditional relationships. Also consider whether
anyone in your family requires special care. This can be a parent, child, or sibling who has special needs or disabilities, mental health issues, or substance abuse struggles.
Once you have taken these steps, you are ready to sit down with an estate planning attorney to discuss how you want your assets to pass at your death: you know what you have, what makes your family unique, and who in your family might need special care or attention after you are gone. Taking these steps of review, collection, and reflection about your family, will help your attorney craft an estate plan that is tailored to your particular situation.
At Hinson & Hinson we try to make this process easy for our clients by providing an Estate Planning Fact Sheet for them to collect the information and to review together.
Maia A. Newman
Hinson & Hinson, P.C., Huntsville