There are those that recognize the fact they should have an estate plan in place but they are frozen with inaction because they aren’t sure how to proceed. This is understandable, so we would like to break it down in a manner that is very simple to understand in an effort to dissolve the barrier that is invariably presented by the unknown. We call this approach the three A’s of estate planning.
The first step is to assess the situation and take stock of all the relevant factors. This would include inventorying your assets and identifying who you would like to leave inheritances to upon your passing. In addition, you may want to consider the period of time that will precede your death and identify representatives who you would like to see handling your affairs if you were to reach the point where you could no longer do so for yourself.
Once you have a pretty good idea of what you want to achieve with your estate plan, the next logical step would be to arrange for a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. Your lawyer will gain an understanding of your wishes and the forms that your assets are in and recommend an overall strategy that will enable you to achieve your legacy goals.
One of the things that is important to understand when you are engaged in the process of estate planning is the fact that your original estate plan is not something that is etched in granite. Of course it will be legally binding as it exists in its present form, but you may have to make adjustments as life changing events take place. And of course there are things that happen that are out of the control of the individual that may also make it necessary to adjust your existing estate plan. These things would include significant shifts in the financial markets, relevant governmental legislation, and changes made to the health care system and/or programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.