9 Estate Plan Must Haves

For most people, thinking about estate planning is about as fun as going to the doctor. However just a little bit of estate planning can go a very long way to protect your wealth and beneficiaries.

What is an Estate Plan? An estate plan is the documentation and management of personal assets during the clients life and preparing for how those assets will be distributed to beneficiaries on death or incapacitation.

The goal of a good estate plan is to ensure that client assets are managed properly while client is alive and distributed to beneficiaries accurately and efficiently upon death or incapacitation.

A good estate plan consists of a core group of legal documents, including a will, a trust and power of attorney.

Below I am going to share nine powerful estate plan must haves that can set the foundation for a rock-solid estate plan.

Top 9 Estate Plan Essentials

Document All Assets: I have clients who have bank and brokerage accounts all over the place. Some of my clients have more than 20 accounts. That’s not necessarily a band thing – but it’s actually surprisingly easy for one or more of these accounts to get lost in the shuffle of an inheritance. Build a meticulous list of all assets, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate and equity in privately help companies. This is a quick and easy way to get started with an estate plan and it ensures valuable account don’t get forgotten

Designate IRA Beneficiaries: Retirement accounts such as the traditional IRA are easy to transfer to beneficiaries. IRA account owners can add beneficiaries directly to IRA accounts, enabling the accounts to avoid probate. You can however still place an IRA into a trust, which proves additional benefits particularly if beneficiaries of IRA are minors.

Setup a Will: A will is a good next step in ramping up the estate plan. Setting up a will is super simple these days. I recommend hiring an attorney, however you can get started on a super simple will on legal zoom for $89. Remember, even having a basic will in place is most likely a lot better than having nothing.

Form a Trust: This is when you take the estate plan to a higher level. The trust is a legal document that arranges for the management of assets by a third party (trustee) on behalf of the beneficiaries. The primary benefit of a trust is avoiding probate, structuring an inheritance and potential tax breaks.

Durable Power of Attorney: This is the person designated to act on behalf of client if client becomes incapacitated. This responsibility includes making important personal and financial decisions if client is incapacitated.

Healthcare Power of Attorney: This is the person designated to make important healthcare decisions on behalf of client if client becomes incapacitated.

Guardianship Designations: For parents of minors, this legal documents designates legal guardians if client becomes incapacitated or deceased.

Hire Professionals: Get experts involved in the creation and execution of the estate plan. The three legs are attorney for drafting legal documents, accountant for taxes and accounting, and an investment advisor for broad financial planning and brokerage management.

Store Documents in Safe Place: Even if you are still on step one, be sure to store the estate plan and documents in a very safe place and make sure the trustee knows the location. It’s also a good idea to have a second copy of estate plan at a second location.

This is a starter kit on an estate plan. Taking some very simple steps can go a long way to preserving wealth and ensuring that assets are properly distributed to beneficiaries.

I’ll be back with another update next week – have a great day!

Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. This report is for entertainment purposes only. Every investor should consult with an investment advisor before making investment decisions. The Vodicka Group, Inc. is not a broker/dealer. We do not receive compensation for mentioning stocks. At various times, the clients, publishers and employees of Vodicka Group, Inc., may buy or sell the securities discussed for purposes of investment or trading.


Michael Vodicka

Michael Vodicka is the president and founder of the Vodicka Group Inc., a licensed investment advisor (Series 65) and a financial journalist.