How To Make An Estate Plan

Man and woman talking

Estate planning is a key feature of any adult’s life, but very few people understand exactly how the process works to get it. Depending on which provider you use, the individual steps may vary slightly, but overall the process is similar. Making, or drafting an estate plan can be intimidating, but this simple guide will break it down to a simple guide!

Step 1: Pick a Provider

Easily one of the most important steps, and far and away the easiest to get wrong. We go a bit more in depth in this post, but in short you need to pick a provider that is going to have the priorities

of you and your family in mind every step of the way. Different providers will also bring their own perspective to your planning, so be sure to pay attention to what they focus on as they (and their staff) talk to you.

Step 2: Pick a Plan

Once you have chosen a provider, consider what type of estate plan you want. While the temptation may be to pick based on price alone, a good provider will only be presenting plans that are very likely to present long term savings (If they can’t explain those savings, you may want to go back to step 1). Be sure to ask lots of questions about how your family will benefit from the estate plan, and where they will still be at risk.

Step 3: Gather Information

At this point, the ball is in your court! Gather the information your provider asks of you. Everyone will ask for different things, but be ready with any real estate or financial documents. While you won’t need all that information instantly, you’ll want to figure it all out fairly quickly to ensure your planning moves along as quickly as possible.

Step 4: Review the Documents

After a few weeks, your estate planner should reach out and present the documents to you for review. This will allow you to go over the documents on your own time, and present any questions you have to the individual/individuals that drafted them. Be sure to double check the spellings on everything at this point to ensure it is drafted correctly.

I mentioned that this should happen. While we at Middleton Law Offices are committed to this step to ensure the best possible work, not every office will take the time to do this step.

Step 5: Sign

It’s time to put the plan in action! This final meeting will be an in person one by necessity. It can take anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour depending on the complexity and quantity of the documents. The attorney may not be there at signing, so be sure to have all of your questions answered before you get there.

Step 6: Fund

If your estate plan includes a trust, you may need to fund it. Funding the trust is the process of putting assets into the trust itself. Your plan should come with funding instructions as well as certifications of trust. Ask your attorney if they do any funding on your behalf.

Step 7: Review!

Often forgotten, but probably the most important step is the review. As much as we’d like estate planning to be time-proof, everything from changing laws to changing families make that impossible. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your attorney every few years to re-evaluate your plan to ensure it stays up to date.

It’s as simple as that. As mentioned, there may be variation from institution to institution. While each step is important, the first will always inform everything to follow. If you have any questions about this process, or would like to start it for yourself, give us a call at 419-352-7522 or click here to schedule a meeting with our Client Care Coordinator today!

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