People often wonder about what they’re leaving behind for their loved ones. An estate plan can be one of the best gifts.

Not only does this secure your own desires, it also alleviates some stress from your family. Rather than being forced to make tough decisions themselves, they can rely on your thoughtful plan.

Roy Gagaza sees this benefit every day. Since retiring from the military, he now assists others by providing sound retirement and financial strategies. Using this experience, the Registered Financial Consultant offers seven tips to help get your affairs in order.

Conduct an inventory

Like most, you’ll likely be surprised at how many valuable assets you’ve accumulated over the years. Start by listing tangible items, like any real estate holdings, vehicles, collectibles, and electronics. Savings accounts, stocks, and similar non-physical assets need to be documented as well.

Assess your family’s needs

After determining the value of your estate, consider how your family is protected. Adequate life insurance coverage can help pay for future expenses. In addition to naming a guardian for any young children, also include any instructions for their care if you’re gone.

Name your beneficiaries

A will may document your wishes, but listing beneficiaries on your bank or retirement accounts can expedite the process. Not only will these be immediately payable upon death, they also supersede other documents. Roy Gagaza reminds potential clients to keep this information updated and even select “backup” beneficiaries just in case.

List your directives

Any estate plan isn’t complete without instructions for trusts and medical care. With a living trust, you can set aside portions of your finances while you’re alive. Upon death, this will be transferred to your beneficiary. Known as a living will, this explains health care instructions if you are unable to make those decisions yourself.

Choose the power of attorney

Like with medical care, the power of attorney empowers someone else to control any financial affairs when you can’t. This covers paying taxes and outstanding bills, but also extends to accessing and managing your assets. For this reason, Roy Gagaza always cautions clients to choose their power of attorney wisely.

Keep documents safe

As simple as it sounds, store documents in a safe place. The hard work of creating an estate plan is meaningless if you or your executor can’t find the appropriate documentation. Make several copies of any relevant information. Review these often, making needed adjustments as things change.

Consider hiring help

There’s a lot to navigate. With so much on the line, think about consulting a professional. Although it may be possible to handle smaller estates individually or with online help, larger estates may have more complex requirements. A Certified Estate Planner, like Roy Gagaza, can help you choose the right path and give you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out properly.

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