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The holidays can bring out the best, and worst, in families. That, combined with a new year approaching, often leads people to consider what their future will look like. Often, both estate planning and financial planning are aspects that people consider as we wrap up one calendar year and jump into the next. What are the Top 5 things to consider for your own estate plan? Read on to find out…

  1. What are your priorities? Do you want to make sure that you and your spouse are comfortable in retirement? That may involve a trust and working closely with a financial advisor. Do you want to make sure that your children are taken care of after you’re gone? That would involve creating, or updating, your Last Will and Testament and also possibly considering different life insurance options. If you don’t want your assets to go to your family, would they go to a charity? Perhaps you want to do some research to so that you can name a charity that is important to you as a beneficiary.
  2. What professionals do you need to seek out? If you just need estate planning documents done, you need an attorney. However, you may also want to consult with your financial advisor, your life insurance agent, and/or an accountant. Planning for the future includes planning for your retirement as well as your family’s financial security if you are no longer around to help support them.
  3. What policies do you already have? Life insurance? Is it whole or term? Disability insurance? Do you need it? are you beneficiaries set up correctly? While these assets do not need to be included in your Last Will and Testament if you have beneficiaries listed, you do need to make sure that you have listed the correct people, in the correct order (for example a primary beneficiary could be potentially followed by co-secondary beneficiaries, but you need to make sure that the documents are completed correctly.
  4. Make sure that you actually know what financial assets you have. That may seem like common sense, but people leave jobs, close accounts, change policies, etc., and you want to make sure that a) you know which assets you have so that you can properly include them in your estate plan and b) that you have your paperwork together in a safe place so that your Executor can more easily handle your estate. It is also a good idea to have a transfer on death (or payable on death) bank account. Many people create these and name their Executor as the beneficiary. That way, when you pass away, your Executor can access that account for things such as funeral expenses and does not have to wait for other accounts to go through probate, or for life insurance money to come in.
  5. You will need to list beneficiaries for any Last Will and Testament or Trust that you draft. You will need to know their contact information and, if they are under the age of 18, you will need to select someone to be a trustee of their inherited assets until they attain a certain age.

Of course, there are many other things to consider in drafting your estate plan as well. These tips are just a good starting point. Are you considering drafting, or modifying your estate plan but don’t know where to start? We’re here to make your estate planning easier, not harder. Ever Argue with a Woman? Contact Wolf & Shore Law Group at 203.745.3151 or today for assistance with your estate planning matter.

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