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“10 Things to Do Before You Die”

Estate Planning Attorneys Ann Arbor

By Marty Bodnar

You may already know the importance of funding a trust as a part of preparing for your death. It’s also important to know other things you should be preparing for before you die.

These things include:

  1. Inventory: there’s more to estate planning than writing a will or trust. You should create a list of your assets to make it easier on your family. An estate planning attorney can help you prepare a spreadsheet listing your assets and placing it in your estate planning binder.
  2. Retirement/Life Insurance/Annuities: beneficiary designations of your retirement, life insurance and annuities take precedent over your trust. It’s important to coordinate beneficiary designations with your overall estate plan.
  3. Bank Account - you can designate a beneficiary for your bank accounts through a “payable on death” (“POD”) designation. Again, it’s important to coordinate these POD designations with your overall estate plan. 
  4. Investment Account - you can designate a beneficiary of your investment account through a “transfer on death” (TOD) designation. Again, it’s important to coordinate these TOD designations with your overall estate plan.
  5. Fiduciary– it’s important to select a responsible a person to be your trustee or personal representative. Selecting the wrong person can create a lot of “headaches” and “heartaches” for your beneficiaries. 
  6. Will – even if you establish a trust, you still need a will. This is called a pour over will. Sometimes, a trust isn’t needed and a will becomes the legal instrument distributing your assets.
  7. Review - you should review your estate plan every 5 years or sooner if circumstances warrant such as your health or the health of your beneficiaries decline.
  8. Copy - after signing your estate plan, provide a copy to your successor trustee or personal representative.
  9. Simplify Financial Accounts - Due to job changes, many people have several retirement accounts and other assets. Toward the end of life, it’s best to consolidate your accounts to make it easier for your fiduciary to administer your estate.
  10. Get Started - procrastination is the enemy of estate planning. Just getting started gets the job done. Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Contact an estate planning attorney to get started.

If you’re interested in learning more about the top 10 things to do before you die, please call Marty Bodnar, an estate planning attorney in Ann Arbor at 734-665-4441 or email him at

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