Creating an Estate Plan: A Step-by-Step Checklist and How-To Guide for HNWI

Written by:
Justin Guilder
Devesh Aggarwal
November 3, 2023

Crafting an estate plan is a prudent step to ensure your assets are managed and distributed as per your wishes, providing security for your loved ones. This guide simplifies the process into actionable steps, making estate planning a less daunting task.

Step 1: Inventory Your Assets and Documents

A detailed inventory is the foundation of your estate plan. First step is to get a complete understanding of what you own and owe.

How to Proceed:

1. List Financial Assets:
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment and retirement accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Trust assets
2. Gather Property Details:
  • Real estate deeds and titles
  • Mortgage and loan documents
  • Vehicle titles
  • Business interests and private investments
3. Collect Personal Documents:
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage or divorce documents
  • Passports and military records
4. Digital Assets:
  • List all digital accounts and passwords.
  • Include digital assets like domain names, cryptocurrency, and social media accounts.
5. Safe Storage:
  • Store these documents in a secure place like a safe deposit box or digital vault.
  • Ensure a trusted individual knows the location and access details.

Having a detailed inventory not only provides a roadmap for those executing your estate but also allows you to grasp your net worth fully.


Step 2: Review Ownership and Beneficiary Designations

The title and beneficiary designations on your assets will dictate their distribution.

How to Proceed:

1.    Review Asset Titles:
  • Check titles on all properties and accounts.
  • Understand the implications of joint ownership and rights of survivorship.
2.    Verify Beneficiary Designations:
  • Review beneficiaries on retirement accounts and insurance policies.
  • Ensure they align with you restate planning goals.
3.    Consult with an Attorney:
  • Get professional advice to ensure your assets are titled correctly to meet your distribution wishes.
Key Insight: Beneficiary designations control asset transfer upon death, superseding your will.

Step 3: Create or Update Your Will

Your will is a fundamental document in your estate plan, that dictates how your assets will be distributed.

How to Proceed:

1.    Draft a Will:
  • Work with an estate planning attorney to draft a will.
  • Designate an executor and backups.
2.    Guardianship:
  • If you have minor children,appoint a guardian.
3.    Specific Bequests:
  • List any specific gifts to individuals or organizations.
4.    Trust Provisions:
  • Include any provisions for trusts, outlining the terms.
5.    Sign and Store:
  • Sign your will in the presence of witnesses as per state laws.
  • Store it securely with other important documents.

A properly executed and current will prevents the state from making critical decisions on your behalf.

Step 4: Assign Powers of Attorney

  • Powers of attorney allow trusted individuals to act on your behalf.

How to Proceed:

1.    Durable Power of Attorney for Finances:
  • Appoint an individual to manage your finances in case of incapacitation.
2.    Healthcare Power of Attorney:
  • Designate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf.
3.    Living Will:
  • Draft a living will to specify your end-of-life care wishes.
4.    Discussion and Documentation:
  • Discuss your wishes with the appointed individuals.
  • Have these documents drafted and stored securely.
Tip: Ensure your chosen individuals are willing and able to act in these crucial roles.

Step 5: Communicate with Family and Advisors

Communication is key to ensuring smooth execution of your estate plan.

How to Proceed:

1.    Inform Key Contacts:
  • Share your estate plan with your attorney, financial advisor, and key family members.
2.    Family Discussions:
  • Have open conversations with your family to manage expectations.
3.    Educate the Next Generation:
  • Discuss your values, charitable goals, and hopes for the family legacy.
4.    Continuous Review and Updates:
  • Review your estate plan periodically, especially after major life events.
  • Update your plan as needed to reflect your current wishes and circumstances.

Engaging in candid discussions dispels uncertainty and fosters a supportive environment for executing your estate plan. 

By meticulously following these steps, you're not only ensuring financial security for your loved ones but also imparting a well-structured legacy that resonates with your values. Estate planning may seem complex, but with a step-by-step approach, it becomes a manageable and rewarding endeavor.

Estate planning is more than a transaction; it's a testament to your life’s work, your family's future, and the legacy you wish to leave behind.

At Lumida Wealth Management, we don’t just safeguard your assets; we safeguard your story. Entrust your legacy to us, and rest assured that your values, wishes,and loved ones will be honored for generations to come.

Click to talk to one of our advisors.

 To read our comprehensive guide on Estate Planning click here.

Text is copied
This is some text inside of a div block.