Georgia Estate Planning Checklist

Estate planning checklist 2023

The best way to approach estate planning for the first time is to make a checklist for yourself. Everyone has unique needs, and if your needs are complex, an estate planning attorney may be helpful. Before making the choice whether to hire an attorney or do it yourself, these are general steps you can take to get started.

☐ Take an inventory

Write down everything you own of value that you can think of. This may seem overwhelming, but keeping a running list of assets is worth the time to make sure nothing important is left out. Make sure to consider both tangible and intangible assets. Tangible assets are:

  • Vehicles
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Homes
  • Other physical items of value

Intangible assets are:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts, like 401(k)s or IRAs
  • Life insurance plans
  • Financial elements, like bonds or annuities
  • Other nonphysical items

Listing liabilities, like mortgages, lines of credit, and other debt is a good idea as well. That’s because certain debts must be paid—even after death. In that case, it will come out of your estate.

☐ List your family members

The purpose of listing your family members is to account for the needs of immediate family and dependents. Your will and life insurance policies are the primary ways to plan for the needs of your surviving spouse and make guardianship designations for children and other dependents. Many people also make arrangements for pets.

☐ Designate your beneficiaries

A beneficiary is a person or institution inheriting a piece of your estate, such as money, physical property, or control of or interest in a business.

You should name your beneficiaries on your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. If you name beneficiaries to those accounts in your will, make sure the names match to avoid any confusion.

Choose backup beneficiaries for your assets in case a person is unavailable or dies before your estate distribution. You can also name a beneficiary in a “residuary” clause in your will. This person will inherit anything left over after your estate distribution.

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