Have you made your wishes known?
Three tips for making sure your assets go where you want them to go

The start of a new year is a good time to think about what you want to accomplish in the coming months. One thing you may want to include on your to-do list is making or updating your estate plans. Whether your goal is to protect your assets, take care of your loved ones, or provide gifts for your favorite charitable organizations, it’s important to have a plan to make sure your wishes will be carried out.

Put it in writing. A will or living trust allows you to name the people or organizations you want to receive your assets. If you don’t have such a document, state law will decide where your assets go. If you already have a will or trust, it’s important to review it regularly. Financial or life circumstances can change. You’ll want to make sure your estate plan reflects those changes. If you have minor children, you need a will to name guardians in case something happens to you.

Review your beneficiaries. When it comes to planning, having a will or trust may not be enough. Many of the assets you own, including retirement accounts, life insurance policies, even some bank or investment accounts, only pass to the individuals or charities you have named as beneficiaries. It’s important to regularly review your designated beneficiaries to make sure your assets are going where you want them to go.

Seek help. You may wish to contact an attorney to assist you in creating or updating your estate plan. Often, people ask friends and relatives for the name of an attorney with whom they have worked. You can also contact your state bar association for names of estate planning attorneys in your area.

Need help getting started? Go to z.umn.edu/estateplanningkit.

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