Among these first tasks, Hoyt says, should be designating beneficiaries on your financial accounts. “It’s very basic, but it’s more powerful than a will,” he said. “That way, assets don’t have to go through probate.”
Another thing people may not know is that most brokerages let you attach transfer-on-death instructions to your non-retirement account.
In fact, transfer-on-death deeds can also be used in real estate in 27 states, including Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Texas and Washington, D.C. Exceptions include Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.
Next, detail your liabilities — mortgage, loans, credit card debt — and insurance policies for health, home and any vehicles.
You’ll want to have a contact list of people your family can reach out to for help. Include your lawyer, accountant, insurance agent and financial advisor. Write down everyone who needs to be in the loop.
Even if you already have an estate plan, it can be a good idea to consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning.