This week (October 17-23, 2011) is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. The NAEPC Education Foundation reports that over 120,000,000 Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans to protect themselves and their families in the event of sickness, accidents, or untimely death. This costs the affluent and middle classes wasted dollars and hours of emotional hardship each year that that can be minimized with proper advanced planning and action.
With permission of estate planning attorney Martin Shenkman, CPA, PFS, JD below you will find his checklist of 12 important steps in the estate planning process:
1. Organize your emergency information and information about your advisors.
2. Designate a person to handle your financial and legal issues by creating a power of attorney.
3. Designate a person to make health care decisions and access medical records by creating a health care proxy.
4. Communicate your health care wishes by creating a living will.
5. Protect your minor children with an emergency child medical form.
6. Sign a will.
7. Create a personalized (not boilerplate) revocable living trust to manage your assets during your disability or illness.
8. Ensure that your insurance coverage is in order.
9. File your beneficiary designations and confirm title to your accounts.
10. Give back so you can demonstrate important values to heirs, help others, and inspire others.
11. Communicate your estate and financial plan to your advisors, family, and friends.
12. Review, revisit, and revise your plan so it can continue to protect you.
Mr. Shenkman is an estate planning attorney in New Jersey. His not-for-profit, RV4theCause, www.RV4TheCause.org was formed to help those living with chronic illness, their caregivers and loved ones by educating professional advisors and consumers about estate, insurance, tax and financial planning for those living with chronic illness.