No, this is not a bucket list! Instead, it is a serious look at a not so pleasant subject – death. Like most people, you probably would prefer not to think about your own death. The reality is that we will all die at some point in time. With that in mind, it is best to be prepared and to do everything possible to ensure that loved ones will be well cared for in your absence. Toward that end, consider the following “10 Things You Should Make Sure Are Done before You Die.”
1. Take stock – know what you own. You would be surprised at how many people do not know what they are worth. Take the time to sit down and make a list of all your estate assets and their values as well as a list of all your debts.
2. Decide who will inherit. Who do you want to receive your estate assets and in what percentage? If you want specific items to go to specific people, make a list of those bequests.
3. Calculate how much you need to leave behind. If you have minor children, calculate what it will cost to get them to adulthood and through college. If your children are grown, figure out what your spouse needs, in addition to any income or benefits he/she has apart from you.
4. Purchase life insurance. You cannot have too much life insurance, but you can have too little. Most people need the proceeds of life insurance to be able to leave behind sufficient assets to provide for loved ones. The earlier in life you purchase life insurance the less your premiums will be.
5. Make a list of log-ins and passwords. In today’s electronic age, most banking, bill paying, and correspondence is done electronically. Your Executor and/or loved ones will need access to your accounts which will require your log-ins and passwords.
6. Update beneficiary designations. Make sure that older retirement accounts and life insurance policies have a current spouse as the beneficiary. Conversely, make sure older accounts don’t have a previous spouse as the beneficiary!
7. Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you consult with an experienced Illinois estate planning attorney to determine if you need to include additional documents and/or strategies into your estate plan.
8. Execute and/or update a Last Will and Testament. At a bare minimum, execute a Last Will and Testament so your estate isn’t considered an intestate estate which would mean the State of Illinois will decide what happens to your estate assets.
9. Write a Letter of Instructions. Though not legally binding, a Letter of Instructions is your opportunity to explain decisions you made in your estate plan or to pass on any information not found elsewhere in your plan.
10. Distribute and/or secure lists and estate planning documents. Give copies to appropriate people and secure the originals in a fire proof home safe along with giving your estate planning attorney a set of originals.
If you have additional questions or concerns about your Illinois estate plan, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.