Secure your estate in 3 steps

October 24, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Just 50 percent of Americans have an up-to-date estate plan on the books. That means between you and your partner, it is likely that only one of you has specified in writing who will receive their life’s worth of assets.

Easy as 1-2-3

Here are three things to focus on to ensure your loved ones are protected:

Take an inventory of your assets

An estate includes your home; car; checking and savings accounts; retirement investments; additional homes and/or properties; life insurance plans; and even that classic baseball card collection.

While the bulk of estate planning includes declaring who you’d like to receive your assets after your death or in the event you become incapacitated, it also spells out:

  • The guardian you’ve selected for your minor children
  • Provisions for family members with special needs
  • Instructions for your care if you can’t make these decisions for yourself
  • Arrangements for disability income insurance if you can’t work due to illness or injury; long-term care insurance in the event of extended illness or injury; and life insurance to provide for loved ones after your death
  • The transfer of your business when you retire, are incapacitated, or pass away

Update vital documents

This includes your wills, living wills and advanced directives, to start. Your beneficiaries will incur less taxes, court costs and legal fees with current documents.

Update beneficiaries

If you or a family member have experienced a major life event – like marriage, divorce, birth of a child or death of a loved one – check to make sure your beneficiaries are up-to-date.

Remember that for U-M benefits, you need to designate beneficiaries separately through TIAA and Fidelity Investments for your retirement savings plan accounts, and through MetLife for life insurance.

Consider U-M’s legal benefit

U-M’s Legal Services Plan includes tools and assistance for estate planning, including living wills, powers of attorney, trusts and codicils (updates to wills). In addition, the benefit provides support for:

  • Real estate matters, including eviction defense; problems with your landlord; and buying, selling or refinancing your home
  • Family law matters, including name change, uncontested adoption and guardianship. (Note that the plan covers advice about divorce, but does not cover representation in a divorce case.)
  • Debt defense (problems with creditors)
  • Defense of civil lawsuits
  • Document preparation, including deeds, demand letters, promissory notes and mortgages
  • Identity protection and credit monitoring

If you’d like to enroll in the Legal Services plan, you can do so during Open Enrollment, which takes place now through Oct. 28. Coverage begins Jan. 1, 2023.

Fidelity Investments and TIAA, U-M’s partners in administering its Retirement Savings Plans, also offer free tools to help you begin the estate planning process.

For more info

The National Association of Estate Planners and Councils provides resources to help you sort out your estate, as well as health proxies, wills, powers of attorney and more.