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Estate Planning, Step-by-Step: Part One

Stephen Merkel had a great article on SFGate.com last week, discussing 16 important steps ("Must-Dos") for those individuals beginning to consider the creation of an estate plan. In total, it presents a comprehensive, well-thought-out checklist that should help anyone beginning to put thought into the future of their assets.

  1. Start with something relatively easy - inventorying the assets right before you. It's a good idea to create a list of physical assets, such as vehicles, home furnishings and family heirlooms. Merkel recommends recording anything worth more than $100, but your baseline is up to you. 
  2. Next, do the same thing for your non-physical assets. These might include bank accounts, retirement accounts or insurance plans. Oftentimes these will be worth quite a bit of money, so it's important that they are comprehensively and accurately accounted for. 
  3. Collect information on any outstanding debts or credit accounts that may still be open. If credit cards are not being used, destroy them. Having a comprehensive view of where money is owed can prove extremely useful down the line. 
  4. Merkel also recommends that you compile a list of organizations you are a member of and charities that you support. This information will be more useful for some then others, but is still good to have. Also, as Merkel points out, some organizations have insurance policies for members. In these situations, especially, such information will be extremely useful to your family after your passing. 
  5. Give your estate administrator a copy of your listed assets. If applicable, give one to your spouse as well. Lastly, keep one for yourself, putting it in a safe place.

Source Article

  • Estate Planning: 16 Things To Do Before You Die (San Francisco Chronicle)

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