We all want to ensure our loved ones are protected and provided for, but sometimes the process of doing so can appear overwhelming, and prevent you from even taking the first steps. When it comes to protecting your family and your future with an estate plan, the process can actually be as easy as 1… 2… 3…

1. Assessment. The first step to creating a plan that can protect your family, your future, and your family’s future begins with simply taking stock of what you have and where you are. Begin by making a list of all your assets, including your house, stocks, investments, bank accounts and personal property. Next consider your responsibilities and goals: what are your plans for the future or for retirement? Who do you wish to provide for in your will? Do you have a spouse or children who might benefit from a trust?

2. Implementation. Now it’s time to put all that information you gathered in step one into play. The particulars of your estate will have a great impact on how you build your estate plan: A small estate and straightforward inheritance plan may require only a well-drafted will, while a larger estate may benefit from the asset protections found with a trust. Your goals for the future and your wishes for your family will have an equally large impact on your choice of estate planning strategies as well, including whether to include an education trust for young students, a pet trust for your furry family members, or a retirement trust to protect your own investments. An estate planning attorney can help you understand your options and implement the strategy you feel works best for your family.

3. Follow-Through. Once your estate plan is drafted, signed, and tucked safely away you’ll want to ensure that it continues working as you intend it to. The best way to do this is to review your plan with your estate planning attorney every 2 or 3 years. Your family and financial situation is likely to change over the years—estate taxes and laws change as well—and all the hard work you put into creating your plan can be undone if you don’t keep up with the changes.