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Estate Planning Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Estate Planning Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started

Do you have an estate plan? If not, it’s a good idea to get one. If you do have one, you might want to think about adding a few things to it to ensure everything is covered and easy to access for your next of kin.

What is an estate plan? 

Estate planning is essentially detailing, in writing and by organizing your life information, who gets or is in charge of handling the assets and responsibilities that currently belong to you in the event of an emergency or your death. 

No matter how much you own or have in savings and investments, everyone has an estate. In the event of an emergency or your death, that estate will have to be settled and distributed. Because of this fact, and contrary to many assumptions estate plans are not just a tool for the wealthy. 

Regardless of the size of your net worth, your age, or the size of your family, putting an estate plan in place for your next of kin is a critical protective measure to take as soon as you are able.

Why do you need an estate plan? 

An estate plan will help to make your life and the life of your loved ones much easier and more secure. 

  1. In most cases, having an estate plan in place will help make the transfer of your assets a much smoother process for your next of kin. If the state has to step in to distribute assets for you it can often be a confusing, drawn out process for your loved ones to endure. Instead, with an estate plan your next of kin will know what goes to who based on your personal wishes. 
  2. An estate plan will provide your loved ones with the information they need to carry out your end of life wishes, provide you with medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, and to handle your assets and prized possessions the way you would like instead of having to search for the information or guess themselves.

A note on hiring help with your estate plan

Many people hire an attorney or tax advisor for assistance with this process. This is something that can really help ensure everything is done correctly and in line with the laws in your state, but if you aren’t ready for that yet, don’t worry, you can still get started. And if you already have legal documents in place, the suggestions below can help you add to that and ensure that you have covered absolutely everything in an efficient way. 

When you are ready for professional guidance, an attorney or tax advisor can help you make completely informed decisions in regards to your estate to meet your personal needs and goals. They can also make sure that your wishes are clearly stated, make adjustments when your needs and goals change, and even help ensure your loved ones aren’t burdened with extra taxes or any other financial surprises. 

Whether or not you hire help, the following steps can be taken as soon as you are ready to get started on your estate planning journey.

3 Basic Steps to Create a Thorough Estate Plan

Step 1. Set up a will, a trust, or maybe even both. A will and trust essentially outlines how you want your financial and material assets distributed and to whom as well as the custody and care of dependents and pets. Which one you need (a will or trust or both) will depend on your personal life circumstances and goals. 

Creating a will or trust can be done with professional guidance. A lawyer can help you decide which you need. There are also free services online where you can at least start one until you are ready to take the process a step further. Having something in place is far better than having nothing at all.

Step 2. Assess your current life situation. This might seem like an overwhelming task as there are so many different aspects of your life to account for. Using an organization system like a Nokbox, which comes with checklists and forms to ensure you don’t miss anything can take the overwhelm out of this process and even make it enjoyable. 

Organizing details about everything from your life insurance policies and employment information to bank accounts and investments and having that all available in one place will give you a clear view of what your responsibilities and values are, while making sure your loved ones can easily access it when needed. 

Step 3. Decide who specifically you want to leave your assets and valuables to and who you would like to be in charge of your estate or to take custody of dependents and pets you might have. The individuals you plan to give items to are your beneficiaries and individuals you give decision making responsibilities to are executors.

How the Nokbox Makes Estate Planning Easier and More Thorough

As noted above, The Nokbox takes the overwhelm out of this process, so that you don’t have to think about what’s next or wonder if you are missing anything or not. With The Nokbox you will:

  • Know which important documents you need if you haven’t started estate planning.
  • Be able to outline your end of life wishes and plans even if you haven’t put a will or trust legally in place yet
  • Provide your loved ones with physical copies of important information, passwords, keys and everything they need to take care of your estate.  

Even if you already have a will or trust, The Nokbox is an incredible tool you can incorporate to ensure that nothing is overlooked in your estate plan. 

The Nokbox addresses things that might otherwise get overlooked like:

  • Which friends and neighbors to tell if you died
  • Who currently has keys to your house
  • Where your pet goes to the vet and what their care instructions are
  • Even anecdotal information your next of kin will want to know like “don’t give that painting to Goodwill; it’s worth thousands!” 

Estate planning is essential to protect your assets and make sure the people you love most are provided for when your time comes or if an emergency arises. It provides you and them with peace of mind. 

Hopefully this guide can help you take the basic initial steps to get your estate plan started.

Choose your Nokbox and start your estate planning journey today. 

Choose your Nokbox

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