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Here is your checklist for Estate Planning: The 5 Most Loving Things You Can Do for the People You Love.

As you are celebrating the holidays and looking at the new year to come, add this checklist for estate planning as one more show your love.  We’ve listed below five of the most loving things you can do for your family in terms of planning for the future when you are no longer there to be with them.

1.  Make a plan. 

First on a checklist for estate planning is to, well, make a plan. Work with your Personal Family Lawyer® to create a will, trust, power of attorney, health care directive and, if you have kids, a Kids Protection Plan®.   These are essential to ensure you don’t leave your family to deal with an expensive court proceeding overseen by a judge who doesn’t know (or really care) about you or your family or unnecessary estate taxes.

2.  Write a letter or record a CD. 

Pass on what really matters to your family — your values, insights, stories and experience — in written or recorded form so they can return to you long after you are gone.  This is the heart of legacy planning.

3.  Pay for and plan your funeral. 

Cremated or buried?  Ashes or body where? Yes or no to a viewing?  Make these decisions now and let your loved ones know, in writing, so they don’t have to wonder.  And consider pre-paying for your funeral expenses, so they don’t have to scramble in a time of grief.  There is no time like the holidays to talk honestly with your family about your wishes and set plans in place.

4.  Plan to pay no taxes. 

Will there be taxes on your estate and how will your heirs pay them, if so?  Meet with your Personal Family Lawyer® to be sure. You’d be surprised how little the size of your estate matters when it comes to being at risk for estate taxes or other costs, especially if there’s insurance involved.  You don’t have to be rich to think about this.

5.  Get organized. 

Let your loved ones know where they can find your legal documents and other important paperwork. This includes the key to your safe deposit box and a complete list of the password information to access online accounts, including email, Facebook, and other regularly accessed programs.

You may have already taken care of these items on your checklist for estate planning. If so, congratulations!  If more than a year has passed, you might consider revisiting the plan and making sure everything is up to date and reflects your current situation. A new grandchild, a marriage or divorce should all be reflected in your documents.

We invite you to contact us to review or create your plan with a full Family Wealth Planning Session.