Estate Planning Checklist – How to Know If You Need It

estateplanningHow do you know if you need to do estate planning? The easy answer is just about everyone needs to do some form of planning.

Fellow ElderCounsel member Nicole Wipp recently developed a brilliant checklist for determining if you need estate planning. With her permission, here are eighteen estate planning checklist questions to help you learn whether you need estate planning.  (These cover the most common concerns/concepts related to estate planning.)

  1.  Do you have minor children or are you the legal guardian of a child under the age of 18?  Yes___ No___
  2.  If your financial situation or finances become public knowledge, do you have concerns that predators might take advantage of loved ones in their time of grief or stress?  Yes____ No___
  3. If you got sick or injured, would you want to ensure that the person(s) that YOU say gets to make your medical decisions if you can’t do it for yourself? (And that a judge, or someone else, doesn’t get to say who makes these decisions??)  Yes____ No___
  4. If you got sick or injured, would you want to ensure that the person(s) that YOU say get to make your financial decisions if you can’t do it for yourself? (And that a judge, or someone else, doesn’t get to say who makes these decisions??) Yes____ No___
  5. If something happened to you (either death OR disability), would your family need access to your money right away, or could they wait several months? Yes – they need money right away___; No – they could wait____
  6. If something happened to you (either at a time near death OR during any type of long term disability), would you want your family to know what health care is acceptable to you and what isn’t, to avoid conflict or to avoid confusion? Yes___ No___
  7.  If something happened to you (either death OR disability), would you want your family to know how your money should be spent on your/their/other loved one’s care – whether you prefer at home care, assisted living, or nursing home care?  Yes___ No___
  8. Do you have a blended family (step children or step grandchildren-family members not related)?  Yes___ No___
  9. Are your adult children married or do you anticipate your children getting married at any point in their lifetime?  Yes___ No___
  10. Do any of your loved ones have problems with addiction, creditors, divorce, or are financially irresponsible (in your view)?  Yes___ No___
  11. Do you believe an 18 year old is incapable of handling a large sum of money in a financially responsible manner (they shouldn’t receive a large amount of money at age 18, because they will blow it or will possibly be taken advantage of)? Yes___ No___
  12. If you have minor children and are no longer married to the other parent, do you want someone other than your ex-spouse handling your money on behalf of your minor child? Yes___ No___
  13.  Do you have a taxable estate (over 5.43 million (per spouse) in 2014, potentially 1 million or less starting 2016-on —this includes life insurance)? Yes___ No___
  14. Do you own a business? Yes___ No___
  15. If any of your loved ones are, or were to become, disabled, do you want to ensure they are provided for, without the government being able to take their money?  Yes___ No___
  16. If you have and IRA, 401k, 403b or other tax-deferred investment for retirement, do you want to ensure that this asset is protected for your loved ones after your death? Yes___ No___
  17. If nursing home care becomes necessary for you or your spouse (whether or not you think it will ever happen or not!), are you concerned that the nursing home will be able to take all your assets/property?  Yes___ No___
  18. If nursing home care becomes necessary for you or your spouse, are you concerned that your children will become responsible for your bills or the cost of your care?  Yes___ No___

If you answered YES to any of these questions, then you need some form of estate planning. This could range from simply generating a durable power of attorney and/or advanced healthcare directive to completing a full Will and/or a variety of trust documents. The more questions you answered YES to, the greater your need. See a qualified estate planning attorney, like The Tyra Law Firm, to begin your estate planning process today.

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Written by The Tyra Law Firm

Our firm offers a number of legal services, including Family Law, Estate Planning,Elder Law/Medicaid Planning, and Personal Injury. In each of our practice areas, we are committed to paying close personal attention to every detail, and providing excellent client service.