Estate planning can seem overwhelming when you realize the magnitude of it. It involves all kinds of legal topics such as whom you’d like as the guardian for your children, where you’d like your belongings to go after you pass away and who gets to make decisions about your care if you get sick and can’t do so yourself.
For some people, thinking about these topics can be difficult, but it’s still necessary to do so. Fortunately, there are some simple stops that will help you get started on your estate plan and build it up over time.
1. Contact your attorney
The very first step is to reach out to an attorney and set a time for a consultation. You may want to meet with more than one attorney, so that you can find one who you “click” with. Find an attorney with good references and who you feel comfortable with.
Your attorney will give you information about which documents they need when you come to the consultation, so prepare those in advance.
2. Start with your basic will or trust
To avoid dealing with too much at once, your attorney may start you on your basic will or trust first. These legal documents help you protect your assets by assigning them to beneficiaries, which helps keep them out of probate.
Your will or trust lets you detail what you want to see happen with your estate. You get to make the big decisions now, so a judge doesn’t get to later.
3. Make sure you take care of yourself
The final step to get started is to address your health and well-being. You need to have a health care power of attorney to make sure someone, whether it’s a spouse, friend or family member, has the right to make decisions on your behalf if you’re hurt and unable to make them yourself. This is essential, since it protects you in life.
Your attorney will go over the basics of a good estate plan with you. Start small, and you can always build your estate plan up over time as you get comfortable with the process.