Estate Planning written on a notepad on an Office Desk

Estate Planning Checklist:
What to Know Before You Start 

CornerStone Law, LLC Sept. 30, 2022

If you’re like most people, you probably know that it is never pleasant to think about your mortality or possible incapacity. However, as uncomfortable as it may be, planning for your future is crucial to protect your legacy and loved ones. As an estate planning attorney at CornerStone Law, LLC, I understand the importance of planning and strategizing for my clients.  

In my practice as an attorney, I have noticed that most people do not know how to start planning for the future. That is why I am dedicated to guiding people through the estate planning process and helping them create a plan tailored to their specific goals and circumstances. From my office in Newton, Kansas, I proudly serve clients in Hillsboro, El Dorado, Wichita, McPherson, Hutchinson, and all counties throughout Kansas.  

The Estate Planning Checklist: Things to Consider 

If you are not sure how to get started with your estate plan, you may need to start with a checklist to cover your bases: 

  • Make a list of your assets and valuable items. Often, people forget to include certain assets and valuable items in their estate plans. One way to prevent this is by creating an inventory of your assets. The list should also include non-physical assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and others.  

  • Make a list of your debts. Just as it is important to make a list of your assets, it is crucial to list your debts and obligations. The list may include open credit cards, mortgages, car loans, and all other unpaid debts.  

  • Review your beneficiary designations. Before you start with your estate plan, you may need to review the beneficiary designations on your retirement accounts and insurance policies. A beneficiary designation means that the account/policy will pass directly to the people designated as beneficiaries. It is vital to keep your beneficiary designations up to date throughout your lifetime.  

  • Make transfer-on-death designations. Many people are not aware of this, but you can make transfer-on-death designations for many accounts to simplify everyone’s life. Accounts with transfer-on-death designations will not be probated, which means the parties named as the beneficiaries will receive these assets without having to go through the probate process.  

  • Choose a person you trust to be the executor of your estate. When creating a will, you can name the executor of your estate. This person will be responsible for managing and protecting your estate assets and overseeing the distribution of them. It is crucial to name someone trustworthy, competent, and responsible enough to do the job.  

  • Draft a will. A will – or a last will and testament – is one of the most critical documents you can create as part of your estate plan. This document allows you to detail your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets, select the executor of your estate, and name people who would care for your minor children and pets.  

  • Prepare other estate planning documents. A comprehensive estate plan will typically include multiple documents, not just a will. Depending on your goals and needs, documents that may be a great addition to your estate plan include a power of attorney, living trust, advance directive, and others.  

  • Consult with an attorney. There are many state-specific laws that govern estate plans, which is why you may need the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you create a legally-binding estate plan. Hiring an estate planning attorney will provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind knowing that all of your affairs are in order.   

These are not the only steps to take when preparing an estate plan. The decision to create an estate plan should not be taken lightly. Consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to ensure that your wishes are honored and your loved ones are cared for.  

Plan With an Experienced Attorney   

As an experienced estate planning attorney at CornerStone Law, LLC, I can help you understand what decisions to make when creating an estate plan. If you want to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones, you need a comprehensive plan tailored to your goals, needs, and circumstances. Contact my office in Newton, Kansas, to receive a consultation today.