Start your new year with an estate plan

If your New Year’s resolution is to get your financial affairs in order, you’re not alone. According to Fidelity’s 2018 study, more Americans are considering a financial resolution. Thirty-two percent of respondents said they are considering a financial resolution — which is up from 27 percent in 2017.

While most of the financial resolutions were related to saving more, paying down debt and spending less, having a solid estate plan could help ease your mind. Many people put it off because it can seem too complicated, but here are some simple steps to make estate planning easier.

Start at the end

Think about the impact you could have long after you’re gone. There are exciting things to consider such as the effect you could have on your loved ones and favorite charities. There are also logistical matters to deal with such as naming executors and beneficiaries. Write it all down. Discuss it with your family and friends. Let your charities of choice know the amounts they can count on and how you’d like them to use the money. Share this information with an estate planner, who can help you get a will written and filed with the local court.

Start now (no matter your age)

More than half of Americans don’t have a will. Maybe that’s because many people mistakenly think estate planning is just for wealthy Baby Boomers. In reality, if you’re a young adult with a job, you should already be working on a will. If you don’t have one, the court will decide who gets your assets. This can be especially tricky for unmarried couples and blended families. Even if you don’t have a lot of zeros and commas on your bank statement, you deserve to choose what happens to the money you’ve earned. You want to leave a legacy — not a mess.

Continue to update your plan

You should file your plan away somewhere safe but remember that it isn’t carved in stone. As your life changes, so should your plan. Schedule some time to talk with your estate planner if you’ve gotten married or divorced; if your assets or liabilities have changed; if your retirement plan is outdated; or if you’ve moved to a new state. If your plan is three or more years old, you should have your estate planner review it.