While many clients we see may have sat down and drafted a will at some point in time, few have taken time to plan their estates.

As part of the estate planning process, it’s often important do a more comprehensive inventory of your assets and to draft additional documentation. By doing so, you’ll rest assured knowing that your assets are earmarked for the intended heir and that there’s little chance of your will being contested.

Another benefit of carefully planning your estate is that it can keep your heir’s court costs, tax obligations and other related fees to a minimum.

Three steps you’ll want to take as you begin crafting your estate plan include:

Establishing a net worth statement

You’ll want to make sure to account for all of your debts and assets when doing this. Car and personal loans, home mortgages or equity lines and credit cards are all liabilities that you’d want to account for when listing your debts. Assets include retirement, investment and bank accounts and real estate. You should write the value of each of these alongside them.

Drafting a letter of intent

To avoid there being any confusion about why certain heirs were selected to receive specific assets, you should draft a letter of intent for both your estate’s executor and the probate judge to review. In it, you should provide a justification for leaving certain possessions to different loved ones.

Selecting guardians and executors

If you have minor children, then you’ll document your preferences as to who you’d want appointed their guardian if you died. You’ll also want to select someone that you believe to be both trustworthy and responsible to be the executor of your estate.

It’s important to remember that planning an estate isn’t something that you do once and it’s done. By consulting with an experienced Trenton estate planning and probate attorney, he or she will let you know what documents are important for your unique situation and how often that they should be updated.