Estate Planning is for everyone
Estate planning is something everyone needs to think about sooner or later, as it is the only way to ensure that your end-of-life wishes are followed. It’s a complicated and highly personalized process, as everyone has their own objectives when crafting their plan. While most people have their own unique goals they’re looking to fulfill, there are some objectives that are common across most estate plans. Having an up to date will is extremely important but by itself, is not an estate plan. The following are the most common planning objectives, all of which should be on your mind when working with us on your own estate plan.
Provide For Your Loved Ones
Obviously, the most important objective to any estate planning should be to ensure that the most important people in your lives are provided for if you become incapacitated or pass away. This can also include a charity or other worthy cause that you are passionate about. While there are many other objectives to consider, they are all subservient to this main goal. There are many means by which to accomplish this, from choosing who receives your various assets to selecting a guardian for your minor, children, or pets. When you complete an estate plan, the first question you need to answer is “Have I taken care of all my loved ones?”.
When developing an estate plan, you generally want to ensure that as many of your assets as possible are going to your loved ones and other beneficiaries. As such, a common estate planning goal is to minimize how much of your assets are going towards taxes. At the very least, you should examine estate and income taxes and the impact on your wealth capital.
Ensure Your Assets Go to the Right People
Besides making sure that as many of your assets are going to your loved ones as possible, you should also state who specifically gets which assets. In estate planning, ambiguity is the last thing you want to see, as it creates a degree of doubt in the minds of lawyers and judges about your wishes, and potentially cause animosity amongst your beneficiaries. If you don’t specifically state who gets your assets or how they should be divided up, someone else will make that decision for you, whether it’s one that you would have been happy with or not.
Creating a Succession Plan
This is a more specialized goal, but one that’s very important for any business owner, especially if you’re running a family business. You should always have a plan in place for who takes over your business when you’re gone, otherwise, you potentially put the entire business in jeopardy. Even if it seems obvious who is next in line, you should leave no ambiguity on the matter, as it only leaves room for potential conflict, especially if other family members are involved in the business.
Most estate planning documents are dedicated to what happens after you have passed, but there are also several elements to consider in the event of incapacity. This not only includes establishing enduring powers of attorney and advance personal directives, but also includes other estate planning documents, including insurance planning and business succession planning. This way you can be sure that all your assets are being tended to, regardless of whether you are able to make a recovery.
We spend a great deal of time managing our finances and various assets, so one of the key benefits of estate planning is the knowledge that we can develop systems that can continue to manage our assets when we are no longer able to do so. An effective estate plan ensures that we retain control over our assets for as long as possible, preserving their value in the process. Then, when the time is right, they can be handed down to spouses, descendants, and other beneficiaries.
Keeping Costs Low
Along with reducing taxes, you should find other ways to keep your estate plan as simple and cost effective as possible. Your estate plan will be composed of several types of legal documents and financial tools so your loved ones won’t have to guess about your final wishes, and this will involve working with a number of professionals. A good estate plan will require a financial investment upfront depending on a number of factors and later during the settlement process, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be cost-effective at the same time. That being said, your estate plan is a lifelong proposal, not a “one and done” deal. There are many things that could cause you to revisit and revise your estate plan.
Guaranteeing Your Children’s Protection
Sometimes an estate plan will have to touch upon the needs of younger children, which comes with its own requirements. If you plan on leaving assets to any minor children or grandchildren in your life, you must name trustees to handle the process, as children generally cannot accept any real estate or financial assets until they turn 18. You also need to consider your child’s guardian in the event of your death or incapacity. This can be complicated if you are a single parent, have blended families, or are caring for a disabled child.
This isn’t typically a major consideration for estate planning, but many couples prefer estate plans that maintain their privacy when given the choice. There has been a growing number of cases where elderly individuals were targeted for fraud, which put their finances at risk. By following certain estate plan practices, one can avoid being targeted by such schemes. Also, probate is in the public domain and plans can be made to protect certain assets from being public.
Ensure Your Wishes Are Being Followed
Next to the certainty that your loved ones are taken care of, the best thing about creating an estate plan is the feeling of relief knowing that your best wishes will be followed. One of the main reasons that people dislike dealing with estate planning is that death is scary, and the uncertainty surrounding what will happen when we’re gone can be overwhelming. But by keeping these estate planning goals in mind and working closely with estate and wealth advisors, you can rest easy that even when you’re gone, your wishes for your family’s future will be carried out. After all, estate planning is not for you. It’s for those you leave behind.
Together, we create a plan that is uniquely yours with an approach that is inclusive, tailored, and confidential. Experience peace of mind knowing you have made a difference today to protect your loved ones for tomorrow.