If you have put off writing your will or deciding who gets your belongings when you’re gone, you are not alone. Face it, estate planning can seem like a chore. But—as with paying the bills or cleaning the house—it feels great when it’s done.
Getting started is often the hardest part, so we have put together a plan to help. Go step by step at your own pace, and soon you will feel the pride and the peace of mind that come from creating something that protects you and your loved ones.
Even better, your plan can protect organizations you love, like MSU. (See Step 5.)
Simple Steps, Big Impact
Step 1: Tally your assets.
First, your personal data. A solid estate plan should include the following:
- A list of your assets that shows current value as well as title (whether held in your name, jointly or, in certain states, as community property)
- If you are married, a list of your spouse’s assets
- Specifics about any debts and other liabilities
- A list of retirement plan assets and life insurance policies that indicates the owner and the beneficiary of each
- Names and contact information of your beneficiaries, including relatives and charitable organizations
- The location of your will, powers of attorney and other valuable papers
Step 2: Make decisions about your estate plan.
Your estate plan paints a picture of your values and the people and charitable causes that are important in your life. An up-to-date will serves as the foundation of your plan, but also important are asset titling and beneficiary naming for retirement plan accounts and life insurance policies.
In this step, you will list each person and nonprofit you would like to benefit. For each recipient, include the gift or percentage you would like each to receive.
Step 3: Pick your team.
Who should fill these roles?
- Executor or personal representative. This is the person who carries out the terms of your will. Choose someone trustworthy who will be comfortable dealing with your finances and investments, taxes and record keeping. Also consider this person’s availability, general health and diplomacy.
- If you have minor children, name a guardian of each child.
- Agent for your durable power of attorney for finances. Choose someone to act on your behalf in financial matters if you become unable to make such decisions.
- Agent for your durable power of attorney for health care. This person makes choices on your behalf regarding medical care if you are unable to make them.
Step 4: Extend your legacy.
You can do kind, compassionate work that benefits others for generations with your estate plan. For example, you can designate Michigan State University as the recipient of a percentage of an item or your estate. There are tax advantages for many planned gifts that extend your caring nature beyond your lifetime.
If you are considering remembering Michigan State University in your will or through your estate plan, we would be happy to meet with you to help answer any questions you might have, with no obligation.
Step 5: Share the good news.
Ensure that any recipient of your generosity knows of your plans. This will make them aware of your intentions and will relieve undue stress in the future.
Congratulations! You have taken the time to ensure that your family and favorite causes are cared for far into the future. Continually review your estate plan whenever major life changes or tax law changes occur, to make sure it is still the best plan for you and your family.
Are You on Step 2?
Contact MSU Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-232-4678 | 517-884-1000 to learn how you can support our mission with a gift in your long-term plans.