You Don’t Have to Live on an Estate to Prioritize Estate Planning

Like buying life insurance, Estate Planning will benefit others more than it will benefit you. Whether planning as an individual or a couple, the process is similar and just as important. Your estate plan helps protect loved ones and carry out your short-term and long-term wishes. Quoting Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”

Estate planning is not a transaction. It is a process of putting your affairs in order now, so your hard-earned wealth efficiently and effectively transfers to individuals or organizations you designate, later. Establish or review your estate plan this year; do not fail to plan!

Estate Planning Checklist:

  • Establish your team of Experts and Trusted Advisors.
    • Estate Planning Attorney
    • Tax Advisor/Accountant
    • Wealth Advisor/Financial Planner
    • Designated Power of Attorney (POA) – often your spouse or adult child
  • Assemble current account statements and property information.
    • Bank (including any Payable on Death (POD) designations); Investment (including any Transfer on Death (TOD) designations), and Retirement Plan and/or IRAs (including primary and contingent beneficiary designations)
    • Real Property (including residential, vacation, rental, etc.)
    • Loans (both debt outstanding and any money owed you by others)
  • Summarize your wishes in an outline that can be incorporated into your estate plan.
    • If you have minor dependents, determine who you would like to designate as their guardian if ever needed. Have a conversation with the guardian(s) and confirm.
    • Think about your wealth as $100. Determine how much of the $100 you would like to go to each of the individuals or organizations you designate when you die. If you are planning as a couple, determine your allocation upon the second to die. You can also discuss and determine if any of the $100 could/should be designated to others upon the first to die (use an expert for this discussion and planning).
  • Determine what estate planning documents you need and if a Trust is right for you and your beneficiaries. Review your assembled and summarized information with an expert and follow their guidance to establish your necessary estate planning documents.
    • Determine the best structure and funding strategy to carry out your estate plan.
    • A Last Will and Testament is a critical document to establish and maintain, but its content is based on whether or not you establish a Living Trust.
    • Do you have specific ideas about your critical medical care when you are unable to direct it? If so, an Advance Healthcare Directive: Medical Power of Attorney written agreement is essential.
    • Related to your healthcare directive, determine if a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) Authorization Form should be executed.
    • A Durable Financial Power of Attorney is a powerful and effective document. Your expert will determine applicability and discuss who should be named POA.
  • Discuss and prepare for long-term care.
  • Make a plan for your digital assets and social media accounts.

If you need help getting started, Waukesha State Bank Wealth Management is here to help. Contact us at or (262) 522-7404.


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