Estate Planning Checklist
Updated: Feb 21
We have discovered that many of our clients need help with basic estate planning issues. There are a number of reasons why it is important to have a will, living trust, advance directive, and other estate planning tools in place to protect you and your loved ones. For example, an estate plan should do the following:
Decide who gets your assets when you die – and sometimes more importantly, who does not.
If you don’t have a will or living trust, the courts and state law will make those decisions for you. Our clients often assume that, if they die, their assets will pass to their spouse if they don’t have a will. That’s a logical assumption, but its not the case under Alabama law. A surviving spouse will have to share your assets with your children or possibly your parents if there is no will. Even though you have worked for years to be sure your spouse is taken care of if something happens to you, not having a will can create a financial burden on her or him that you never intended.
Decide who will be in charge of handling your affairs.
You can pick a person who is capable and who you trust in a will. Without a will, the court will pick someone – maybe someone you don’t want.
Decide how your children will be cared for.
In a will, you can name a guardian that you trust to care for your minor children in the event both parents die. That person will be responsible for raising the children and providing for them. If you don’t have a will, a court will make that decision for you.
Avoid some or all of the expense and hassle of probate court for your loved ones.
A will can help to streamline the probate process, and a living trust may eliminate probate entirely. This can save time and money for your loved ones and it can prevent family disputes that sometimes arise during the administration of an estate.
Decide what medical treatment you will receive should you be terminally ill or injured.
With a living will, you can direct your family and healthcare providers on steps to take, or not take, if you are terminally ill or injured and likely to die in the near future.