In its simplest form, estate planning is proactively securing your legacy, wishes for asset distribution, and healthcare decisions. With an estate plan, you can travel with peace of mind, knowing that your financial, medical, and personal affairs will be handled according to your wishes and that your loved ones are protected.

Here are ten estate planning must-dos that Mark Fishbein of ALTA Estate recommends, ensuring your peace of mind as you travel.

  1. Review Your Will

Life changes, such as marriage or the birth of a child, necessitate updates to your will to prevent disputes and ensure your intentions are clear. Confirm designated guardians for minor children and adjust for significant asset changes since your last review. This process safeguards your legacy and provides peace of mind.

  1. Update Your Power of Attorney

Select a reliable agent, specify their powers, and regularly review the document for changes in your life or law compliance. Discuss the POA’s scope with your agent and inform them and relevant parties of its location. Consult with an experienced estate planner to ensure your POA meets legal standards, and your financial interests are protected, offering peace of mind during your travels.

  1. Health Care Directives

In tandem with a living will, a health care proxy or medical power of attorney designates a person you trust to act as your agent in making medical decisions if you cannot do so yourself. This person, often a family member or close friend, should understand your healthcare preferences and be willing to advocate on your behalf.

This preparation safeguards your healthcare wishes and provides invaluable guidance and peace of mind to your loved ones and healthcare providers, especially when traveling.

  1. Beneficiary Designations

Regularly updating beneficiary designations on life insurance, retirement accounts, and other financial instruments is critical to aligning them with your estate plan. These designations are crucial as they directly determine who inherits these assets, bypassing probate. Changes in your life, such as marriage, divorce, or childbirth, often necessitate a review of your beneficiaries to ensure they reflect your current wishes.

Consider the implications of naming minors or using trusts as beneficiaries for more controlled asset distribution.

  1. Create a Digital Asset Inventory

Today, proper estate planning requires managing your digital assets. Digital assets include online financial accounts, digital currencies, and personal digital content like photos and documents and social media profiles. Begin by listing all your digital assets, including access credentials and specific instructions for each—whether to delete, memorialize, or transfer content.

  1. Secure Important Documents

Secure and organize essential estate planning documents, such as wills, trust agreements, insurance policies, powers of attorney, and health care directives. To safeguard and ensure easy access to these documents, consider storing physical copies in a fireproof and waterproof safe at home or a bank’s safety deposit box, ensuring your executor has access. Also, maintain encrypted digital copies and inform your executor how to access them. Compile an inventory of these documents, detailing their locations and access methods, and share it with your executor or a trusted family member. Communicating clearly with your executor about the location and access to these documents ensures effective estate management, providing peace of mind and easing the burden on loved ones.

  1. Inform Your Executor or Trustee

Communicate effectively with your executor, trustee, or estate administrator, ensuring they are fully aware of the location of all essential documents related to your estate plan. This communication involves informing them about the storage location of these documents, whether in physical form in a safe or digitally in encrypted storage and ensuring they understand the significance of each document.

  1. Review Your Trust(s)

Regularly reviewing your trusts is crucial to ensure they accurately reflect your current wishes and are correctly funded with the intended assets. Changes in life such as marriage, divorce, or financial status may necessitate updates to your trusts, including adjustments to beneficiaries, trustees, and asset distribution.

  1. Emergency Contact Information

To ensure the smooth handling of your affairs, provide your executor or a trusted family member with a concise list of essential contacts. Include your attorney, accountant, financial advisor, and other key professionals in your estate, detailing their names, contact numbers, and email addresses.

  1. Letter of Instruction

A letter of instruction enhances your estate plan by providing detailed guidance and personal touches not included in formal documents. It allows you to express heartfelt messages, explain your decisions, and share your values with loved ones, offering comfort during a challenging time. Specify your funeral preferences and the distribution of sentimental items to ensure you respect your final wishes and pass on personal legacies as intended.

Professional Estate Planning Starts with ALTA Estate

Mark Fishbein emphasizes the importance of these ten estate-planning must-dos before setting off. By reviewing your will, updating your power of attorney, securing essential documents, and drafting a heartfelt letter of instruction, you actively safeguard your legacy and ensure your wishes are communicated and honored. Contact ALTA Estate today to review and update your estate plan.

The text above is for general informational purposes and should not be considered legal advice. For more information, click Contact Us. Follow Mark Fishbein Tucson Estate Planner, on LinkedIn or Facebook. Estate Planning Attorneys and Living Trust Lawyers.

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