ESTATE PLANNING GUIDE


CHAPTER 1: GET ORGANIZED -- discusses the importance of having your estate, insurance, and financial paperwork in order before the unexpected (disability, serious illness, or death) strikes...and offers some suggestions for creating an easy-to-use system for organizing these important documents

CHAPTER 2: INVENTORY YOUR ASSETS AND DEBTS -- guides you through the process of creating a complete financial inventory, including your household contents, your assets (investments, property, other possessions, available cash, etc.) and your liabilities (money owed in a mortgage, loan, credit card balance, or other debt) and discusses the pitfalls of joint ownership of property...plus, includes detailed blank worksheets that you can use to create your own inventory

CHAPTER 3: INSURANCE -- leads you through a complete review and inventory of your insurance policies (types of policies, policy numbers, values, primary and secondary beneficiary designation, agent contact information, etc.)...plus, provides detailed blank worksheets that you can use to create your own inventory

CHAPTER 4: PENSION AND RETIREMENT -- provides a review and inventory of your accounts, and covers all of the important issues to consider related to bequeathing your retirement plans, investments, and pensions to another person (rules about different types of plans, account numbers, primary and secondary beneficiary designation, broker contact information, etc.)...plus, offers detailed blank worksheets that you can use to create your own inventory

CHAPTER 5: ESTATE PLANNING -- discusses the basic estate planning options available to you and explains situations when a simple will is sufficient, when a trust is more appropriate, and when you might need to consider more extensive planning tools; also talks about other issues related to estate planning (choosing an executor, setting up a living will, giving another person power of attorney, choosing a guardian for minor children, etc.) and offers some tips for knowing which documents you need to have prepared and how to find the right attorney to assist you

CHAPTER 6: TAXES -- provides a basic overview of estate taxation, including avoidance of the "death tax," how to stay away from probate court, and ways to reduce your heirs' potential tax liabilities; also talks about the various estate planning vehicles and how the proper structuring of your legal paperwork can significantly lower the bite the government takes from your estate

CHAPTER 7: CREDIT CARDS AND CREDIT HISTORY -- talks about the many issues linking credit cards to estate planning, including handling joint credit cards upon the death of the other cardholder, an heir's responsibilities for credit card debt left at time of death, and how a deceased spouse or partner's credit history can affect you later on...plus, provides blank worksheets that you can use to create your own credit inventory

CHAPTER 8: KEEPING YOUR AFFAIRS UP TO DATE -- goes over the importance of staying on top of your legal and financial affairs and revisiting your estate documents on a regular basis; also talks about situations when you need to review / revise your your estate planning documents (marriage, divorce, moving to a different state, having or adopting a child, a significant increase or decrease in assets, etc.)

CHAPTER 9: LOCATION OF DOCUMENTS -- discusses the importance of safeguarding your vital documents, while making your estate plan accessible to the person who will be taking over in the event of your disability or death...plus, includes blank "document locator" sheets that you can use when recording the location of important records