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Porzio, Bromberg & Newman, P.C. | Contents of this website may contain attorney advertising | Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances
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Estate Plan Check-Up 1: Where to Start

By Deirdre R. Wheatley-Liss, LL.M, CELA and Crystal West Edwards, Esq., CELA

When you want to do a check-up on your estate plan, or you’re thinking about doing an estate plan for the first time, it’s best to start by addressing a few key questions.

Who is Your Family?

For some people, the answer to that question is very obvious. My spouse and my kids.

It’s not the same for everybody, though, and when we think of doing an estate plan check-up, the first question is, for whom are you planning?

It may be your spouse, it may be your children, it may be siblings, it may be your fur babies. Whom is it that you want to be able to benefit?

And from a checklist perspective, the first thing that we recommend is that you create a list of everybody you want to include in your estate plan.

Maybe you're taking care of your parents. You want to make sure that should something happen to you, they're going to be provided for. Maybe there's some kind of family property, and you want to make sure that everybody is able to continue to enjoy it, and continue to have Thanksgiving dinner together.

The first check-up point is looking at who your family is and making a list of those people. The next thing that's important is, what do you have?

What Are Your Assets?

What do you have – to provide for yourself and for your loved ones after you’re gone? What assets do you have? For example:

Financial Assets

  • Bank accounts
  • Investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Insurance policies

Real Estate

  • Your home
  • A vacation home
  • Investment properties

Personal Property

Personal property is extraordinarily important – cars, art, furniture, jewelry. It's the stuff that we don't necessarily think about day-to-day but which may be important to us or to our loved ones – especially items with sentimental value. Maybe you never really cared about that painting that was on the wall, but one of your daughters loves it so much that she could not envision not looking at it every other day when you're gone.

Business Interests

  • Your business
  • Family Business
  • Loans you have made

Digital Assets

Digital assets are something we don't often think about, but we do see in the news from time to time these days. If something happens to you, who can access your Facebook account? Who can access your personal records that are on TDbank.com, if that's who you’re banking with?

If you want help making an inventory of your assets, visit Porzio Planning where we have a financial worksheet which you can download for free.

Who Owns Your Assets or How Are They Owned?

From an estate planning perspective, we're looking not only at what the gross value of your possessions is, but we also need to know who owns it. Is it in your name alone or is it jointly owned with a spouse, another family member or a third party? Is it owned by one spouse, the other, or both?

Once we know who your family is – who you're planning for – and we know what your assets are, the next question is: is your estate plan complete?

This post is for general informational purposes only. The information provided may or may not apply to you given the specifics of your situation. For a video presentation of this information, please visit Estate Plan Check-up. For more detailed information, please visit www.porzioplanning.com or contact us for a free 20 minute telephone consultation.

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