If you're not familiar with Marie Kondo, take some time this week to watch one of her videos on YouTube or check out her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It's incredible to watch the relief and joy that people experience just by implementing her simple strategies to get organized and take back control over their clutter and their lives.
While getting your house in order can be freeing and empowering, getting your finances in order as well can truly be life-changing. Not only will it allow you to be more efficient when dealing with day-to-day tasks like paying bills, but it will put you in a perfect position to start getting your estate planning in order to make your wishes for your family and assets known.
One of the top reasons people tend to procrastinate on getting a will or trust in place is that they dread gathering the financial and legal documentation that may be needed. But, being prepared to meet with your estate planning attorney can be as simple as getting ready for tax time, which you do every year for your accountant anyway.
Similar to tax time, while pulling together your information may initially take some work, the end result will give you confidence, clarity, and peace of mind. Both you and your lawyer will benefit from such organization, and If anything is missing, it will be considerably easier to discover and remedy the situation up front.
A great way to prepare for your initial meeting with an estate planning lawyer is to compile a list of your assets and liabilities. Some of the most common items in this category are:
- Bank accounts.
- Investment accounts
- Stocks and bonds
- Life insurance and Annuity policies
- Deeds for properties you own
- Retirement plans
- Business partnerships or LLC interests
- Money owed to you
- Personal effects
- Loans and credit
It is also helpful to determine in advance who will inherit your assets from your estate. While an estate planning lawyer can help you determine candidates, this is a very personal choice. It also makes sense to determine who you would like to assign roles in managing your estate. Here are a few things to consider:
- Who will you name as guardian for minor children?
- Who will you entrust to serve as the executor of your estate?
- Who will make decisions as your healthcare agent?
- Who do you trust to make financial decisions and serve as your power of attorney?
The good news is that getting your financial life organized is probably easier than you think. Most of your account information is online and you'll need only to log in to get the documents you need. At the end of the process, you'll not only be ready to have a fruitful conversation with your Santa Barbara estate planning attorney, but you'll have a much better picture of what you own and what you owe.
Regardless of where you are in the process, we are here to help you. The first step is scheduling your consultation and from there we can help focus on the most important steps to getting your estate plan in order. To schedule your meeting with our Santa Barbara law firm, we invite you to call (805) 946-1550.