If you are considering taking your first steps toward making an estate plan, there are some things that you should know beforehand. As with all major decisions you should do plenty of research, on your own, to get an idea of what to expect. The following paragraphs can provide you with some sense of what to expect and in what order.
The first thing you need to do after you’ve concluded your research is to determine if you need an estate plan. Depending on your marital status, financial health, and family situation you may not want to take the time or expend the effort involved in making such a plan.
A corollary of determining whether you need an estate plan is figuring out the value of your gross estate. You may be able to find worksheets online to help you with this process. Generally, your gross estate will include but is not limited to the following: the value of your home, the value of any checking or savings accounts you have, the value of your personal property, the value of any life insurance policies taken out on your life, as well as the value of any investments you have made. Be sure you do not forget to account for any liabilities against your estate in making your calculations.
If you have determined that you need an estate plan, the second thing you need to do is find a qualified estate planning attorney and hire him or her to help you.