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What Are the 7 Steps in the Estate Planning Process?

What Are the 7 Steps in the Estate Planning Process?

When it comes to estate planning, did you know that there are seven crucial steps that form the foundation of a comprehensive strategy? An estate planning attorney in Tulsa OK can guide you through these steps, ensuring that your plan is tailored to your unique needs and goals. Understanding these steps can help us navigate the intricate process of managing assets and ensuring our wishes are carried out effectively. From defining goals and establishing wills to addressing healthcare decisions and regular updates, each step plays a vital role in creating a secure future for ourselves and our loved ones. An estate planning attorney in Tulsa OK can provide invaluable expertise and support throughout this process. Understanding the intricacies of each step can provide clarity and peace of mind in planning for the future.

Define Goals and Objectives

Let’s start by clarifying our goals and objectives to ensure we’re on the right path. Setting clear objectives is crucial in estate planning as it helps us determine how we want our assets distributed.

Setting Clear Objectives

Defining clear goals and objectives is crucial in the estate planning process to ensure alignment with our wishes and intentions.

When setting clear objectives, we need to consider our current financial situations, family dynamics, and long-term goals.

These objectives will serve as a roadmap throughout our estate planning journey, guiding us through the necessary steps to achieve our desired outcomes.

By clearly defining what we aim to accomplish through estate planning, we can make informed decisions that reflect our values and priorities.

Whether it’s protecting assets for future generations, minimizing tax liabilities, or ensuring healthcare preferences are honored, setting clear objectives helps us navigate the complexities of the estate planning process with confidence and purpose.

Inventory and Valuation of Assets

Taking stock of our assets and determining their value is a crucial step in the estate planning process. Inventorying our assets involves compiling a comprehensive list of all our belongings, including real estate, investments, bank accounts, vehicles, jewelry, and valuable possessions. This step ensures that nothing is overlooked or forgotten when planning for the distribution of our estate.

Valuation is equally important as it assigns a monetary value to each asset, providing a clear picture of our total estate worth. Professional appraisers may be needed for certain items to ensure accurate valuation. Knowing the value of our assets aids in making informed decisions regarding distribution, taxes, and overall estate planning strategy.

Establish a Will

Let’s talk about the importance of wills in estate planning.

A will is a crucial document that outlines how your assets will be distributed after your passing.

Without a will, state laws may dictate how your estate is divided, which may not align with your wishes.

Importance of Wills

Establishing a will is a crucial step in securing the future of our assets and ensuring our wishes are carried out after we pass away. A will, a cornerstone of estate planning, outlines how our belongings should be distributed and who will manage this process. Without a will, state laws dictate how assets are divided, potentially leading to outcomes that contradict our desires. Below is a table highlighting the importance of having a will:

Benefits of Having a Will Explanation
Clarity on Asset Distribution Ensures assets go to intended beneficiaries.
Appointing Guardianship Designates who will care for dependents.
Minimizing Family Disputes Helps prevent conflicts over inheritance.

Set Up Trusts

In order to protect and manage assets for future generations, setting up trusts is a crucial step in the estate planning process. Trusts are legal arrangements that allow individuals to transfer their assets to beneficiaries with specific conditions managed by appointed trustees. Estate planning attorneys play a key role in helping individuals choose the right type of trust, such as an irrevocable trust or a revocable living trust, based on their needs and goals.

Irrevocable trusts provide a means to protect assets from creditors and can offer tax benefits, although the terms can’t be changed once established. On the other hand, revocable living trusts allow flexibility as the trust creator retains control over the assets during their lifetime and can make changes as needed. Both types of trusts help avoid probate, ensuring a smoother transfer of assets to beneficiaries. By establishing trusts, individuals can safeguard their assets and ensure they’re distributed according to their wishes, making it a vital component of comprehensive estate planning.

Designate Beneficiaries and Guardians

Let’s carefully select our beneficiaries when planning our estate to ensure our assets are distributed according to our wishes.

It’s crucial to designate guardians for any dependents we may have, providing peace of mind for their future care.

Taking the time to make these decisions now can help avoid potential conflicts and uncertainties later on.

Choose Beneficiaries Carefully

When planning our estate, it’s crucial to carefully select beneficiaries and designate guardians to ensure our wishes are carried out effectively. Choosing beneficiaries should involve thoughtful consideration of the individuals who’ll receive assets or property. It’s essential to assess their circumstances, such as financial responsibility, age, and any special needs they may have. By considering these factors, we can tailor our estate plan to suit the unique needs of our beneficiaries.

Designating guardians for minor children is another critical aspect of the estate planning process. Selecting trustworthy individuals who share our values and parenting style can provide peace of mind that our children will be cared for according to our wishes.

Address Healthcare and End-of-Life Decisions

Taking a proactive approach, we prioritize addressing healthcare and end-of-life decisions early in the estate planning process. Making healthcare decisions in advance can provide peace of mind for both ourselves and our loved ones.

One crucial document to consider is the advance health care directive, also known as a medical directive or living will. This legal document outlines our preferences regarding medical treatment if we become unable to communicate our wishes.

Additionally, appointing a healthcare proxy through a medical power of attorney can ensure that someone we trust will make medical decisions on our behalf if we’re unable to do so.

Regular Review and Update

Let’s ensure we stay current with updates to our estate plan to reflect any changes in our lives or laws that may impact our wishes. Regular review and updates are crucial to making sure our estate plan remains relevant and aligns with our current intentions.

Stay Current With Updates

Regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan is essential to ensure it reflects your current wishes and circumstances. To stay current with updates, follow these steps:

  1. Set a Reminder: Schedule regular reviews of your estate plan.
  2. Life Changes: Update your plan after major life events like marriages, divorces, births, or deaths.
  3. Law Updates: Stay informed about changes in estate planning laws that might affect your plan.
  4. Professional Guidance: Consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure your plan is up to date and meets your needs.

Consult Estate Planning Attorney

When should we consult an estate planning attorney for guidance on our estate planning process?

Consulting an estate planning attorney is crucial at various steps in the estate planning process. Whether we’re just beginning or have already made some decisions, involving an estate planning attorney ensures that our wishes align with legal requirements.

Estate planning attorneys specialize in creating strategies tailored to individual needs, helping navigate complex legal procedures, and providing peace of mind that our assets will be distributed according to our wishes. These professionals can assist us in understanding the different steps involved in the estate planning process, such as drafting wills, establishing trusts, minimizing estate taxes, and appointing guardians for minor children.

Create Living Will or Medical Directive

Let’s talk about the importance of creating a living will or medical directive.

These legal documents ensure that your healthcare wishes are known and respected in case you’re unable to communicate them yourself.

Making these decisions ahead of time can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.

Medical Directive Importance

Creating a medical directive, such as a living will, is crucial in ensuring your healthcare wishes are followed in case you’re unable to communicate them yourself. When it comes to medical directive importance, consider the following:

  1. Clarity: Clearly outline your preferences for medical care.
  2. Designation: Appoint a healthcare proxy to make decisions on your behalf.
  3. Life Decisions: Address life-sustaining treatments and end-of-life care.
  4. Legal Protection: Ensure your medical care directive is legally binding.

Plan for Taxes and Debts

Considering taxes and debts is crucial in our estate planning process to ensure that we account for all financial obligations and minimize potential liabilities. When planning for taxes, it’s essential to understand the implications of estate taxes and inheritance taxes on our assets. Making informed financial decisions can help reduce the tax burden on our estate, ensuring that more of our assets pass on to our beneficiaries.

Additionally, addressing outstanding debts is vital to prevent these liabilities from eating into the inheritance we wish to leave behind. By identifying and planning for debts within our estate planning process, we can allocate assets to settle these obligations efficiently, protecting the value of our estate for our loved ones.

Taking a proactive approach to plan for taxes and debts not only safeguards our assets but also streamlines the distribution of our estate. Consulting with financial advisors or estate planning professionals can offer valuable insights and strategies to navigate these financial considerations effectively.

Key Takeaways

  • Define goals and objectives for informed decision-making.
  • Inventory and value assets, including real estate and investments.
  • Establish a will to prevent state laws from dictating asset distribution.
  • Set up trusts for asset protection and tax benefits.
  • Designate beneficiaries, guardians, and address healthcare preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Protect My Estate From Potential Lawsuits or Creditors?

To protect our estate from potential lawsuits or creditors, we can utilize legal tools like trusts, asset protection strategies, and insurance policies. Seeking advice from professionals can help us navigate the complexities and safeguard our assets.

What Happens if a Beneficiary Predeceases Me?

If a beneficiary predeceases us, their share typically passes to contingent beneficiaries as per our estate plan. Regular reviews can ensure our wishes are up-to-date and accurately reflected in our documents.

Can I Include Specific Instructions for My Burial Arrangements in My Estate Plan?

Absolutely, we can include specific burial instructions in our estate plan. It allows us to ensure our wishes are honored and eases the burden on loved ones. A recent study shows 54% of Americans have not documented their end-of-life preferences.

What Are the Implications of Leaving Unequal Inheritances to My Children?

Leaving unequal inheritances to children can lead to hurt feelings and conflicts. It is crucial to communicate openly about the reasons behind these decisions to prevent misunderstandings and foster family harmony in the future.

Is It Possible to Disinherit a Family Member in My Estate Plan?

Yes, it is possible to disinherit a family member in our estate plan. By working with a qualified estate planning attorney, we can clearly outline our wishes and legally exclude any individual from inheriting our assets.


In conclusion, estate planning is crucial for securing the future of our assets and loved ones. Did you know that according to a survey by, only 32% of Americans have a will or estate plan in place? Taking the time to go through the seven essential steps can provide peace of mind and ensure your wishes are carried out. Don’t wait, start planning for your estate today.

For information on the five components of estate planning, visit our page What Are the 5 Components of Estate Planning?

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