Estate Planning Checklist: What To Do After Drafting a Will
Drafting a Will is just one of many vital steps that comprise estate planning. Estate planners or executors must account for all of the Willmaker’s assets to ensure the transfer is executed smoothly and aligned with the wishes of the Willmaker after their passing. Thorough planning, timely communication, and maintaining a comprehensive checklist always prove helpful in ensuring an estate’s affairs are in order.
Inventory Tangible vs. Intangible Assets
Probate law generally categorizes a Willmaker’s assets as either tangible or intangible. Both tangible and intangible assets hold value and must be clearly allocated to a Will’s heir(s). Maintaining an accurate inventory of both is essential for estate planners or executors to facilitate a smooth transfer of assets to a Will’s rightful heirs after death.
Tangible assets include vehicles, jewelry, antiques, power tools, collectibles, and properties—like the Willmaker’s home. Creating an exhaustive list of tangible assets and ensuring the Willmaker has clearly stated what goes to whom in their Will ensures their physical possessions Will be distributed according to their wishes.
Estate planners must also account for the Willmaker’s intangible assets, such as life insurance policies, 401k plans, bank accounts, and brokerage accounts. 3rd party firms may legally manage these assets, and in some cases, their entitlements may be predicated on the Willmaker’s death.
A Will’s executor needs to know the location of these intangible assets, be privy to the firms holding these non-physical possessions, and understand which entitlements are activated when the Willmaker passes. It’s also critical for the estate planner to be aware of any outstanding credit card debt, auto loans, or mortgages that the Willmaker’s estate may need to address following their passing.
Suppose the Willmaker belongs to a charitable organization, veteran’s associations, college alumni group, or holds a similar membership. In that case, the executor or estate planner must be aware of any insurance benefits these organizations may offer to their members at no cost.
Always Keep an Extra Copy of the Will
Estate planners should maintain an unadulterated copy of the document to ensure no unauthorized changes are made to it. In addition to the original signed, witnessed, and notarized Will, this extra copy offers estate planners additional protection from potential confusion or conflict if a Will needs to be further reviewed or verified.
HeirSearch Can Help You Execute a Will or Establish Heirship
An additional responsibility of an executor of a Will or an attorney representing the executor is to assist their client in creating a power of attorney, health care proxy, and living Will. The key to a successful wealth transfer is maintaining clear communication in order to facilitate smoother probate. Estate planning attorneys can benefit from involving heirs in the planning stages to help make the wealth transition easier.
Involving heirs in the inheritance planning stage has some significant advantages, such as avoiding the contesting of the will, and reducing confusion or conflict after the passing of the Will maker. An experienced legal professional like an estate planning attorney can help fill the gaps with the knowledge the client may need to make informed choices.
HeirSearch’s professional researchers are here to help estate planners and Will executors ensure the transfer of assets to an estate’s rightful heirs is executed smoothly and in line with the deceased’s wishes.
At HeirSearch, we’ve seen it all. If you are the executor of a Will or an attorney representing an executor of a Will and need to establish heirship or execute a Will to satisfy the court, HeirSearch can help. We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, court-ready documents, and reasonable, non-percentage-based search fees.
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