What to include in an estate plan

Although the estate planning process can be challenging and time-consuming, it will protect you and your family and help ensure the proper division of your assets.

You should consider creating an estate plan if you have dependents and assets, particularly if your assets are significant. These are some things you should include in your estate plan.

Personal protection documents

If you are ever unable to care for yourself, you will need legal, financial and healthcare powers of attorney. You also need an advanced healthcare directive and a living will. If you have minor children, designate a guardian.

Asset distribution

Your last will and testament are major parts of your estate plan, but if you have significant assets, you may also create a revocable living trust to reduce the tax burden on your beneficiaries. Name a trustee to manage your trust and an executor to fulfill the desires you set out in your will.

List your insurance policies; digital assets; financial assets, including your stocks and bonds, retirement accounts and bank accounts; and physical assets, from valuable jewelry to real estate titles or deeds. Then, clearly state which beneficiary should receive what specific assets.

Additional paperwork

Review your state’s estate planning regulations. You may need to prove your identity, so provide copies of your ID, birth certificate and social security card. Submit your major contracts, such as business, marriage and prenuptial agreements. Include funeral instructions. Finally, create a list of your digital asset login information.

Update your estate plan regularly. This review is especially important when you acquire new assets, your situation changes or you change your desires. However, a regular update can keep you up to date on new state regulations even if your situation has not changed.