Everyone dies. Get over it. Be Prepared.

There. I said it. Time to get real and stop avoiding the obvious and putting if off for later. Making decisions now to plan for your death will protect your family and save them money, time and more heartache.

When it comes to estate planning, it is best to have a written list of things you need to do and the proper documents you need to get ready. Planning your estate is a very wise thing to do, and will save your loved ones massive amounts of money, stress an headaches down the road. As you can see, making sure you have a valid and verified will is a must if you want to make sure the proper family members, or friends, receive your valued assets.

The easiest thing to do is to make an estate-planning checklist. You can do this by writing down steps you need to take in order to plan your estate:

·       Make a will – first and foremost, you need to ensure that you have a solid, legally verified will in place. In your will, you should list important things like who will inherit your property, who will care for your children (or pets) should you have any, etc.

·       Consider making a living trust – as discussed in the probate section on this site, if you hold your property in a living trust, your family won’t have to go through the probate process, saving them more than $10,000

·       Appoint a power of attorney – give a trusted person the authority to handle your finances if you become incapacitated and unable to handle them yourself

·       File beneficiary forms – for bank accounts and retirement plans, it is easy to name a beneficiary ‘payable on death’ to avoid the probate process

·       Life Insurance – if you have a family, a home, debts, etc. – owning a life insurance policy is a good idea

·       Cover your funeral expenses – set up a payable-on-death account at your bank that will pay your funeral and related expenses

·       Make your final arrangements – clearly state your wishes regarding things like organ donation, disposition of your body – burial or cremation, etc.

·       Store your documents – your executor will need access to all of your estate planning documents like your will, trusts, insurance policies, bank accounts, etc.