TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS TO AVOID A MESSY TRANSITION
A comprehensive estate plan is critical to ensuring that your wealth transfers efficiently to your heirs per your wishes, without getting caught in the court system or causing your loved one’s distress. While we do not draft legal documents in-house, our advisors regularly attend estate planning meetings with our clients and their attorneys to help develop the initial plan. We then revisit the plan with you regularly, or when there has been a meaningful life event. In addition, our team helps ensure that trusts are funded, transfer-on-death instructions are in place, and that any beneficiary designations stay up-to-date. Your family and your legacy are important, which is why having a detailed and well thought out estate plan is not only critical, but necessary.
WHAT IS AN ESTATE?
Your estate consists of everything you own or that makes up your individual net worth. This includes your property (house, car, etc.) in addition to other assets like your investments or assets you possess a controlling interest in.
WHAT DOES AN ESTATE PLAN INCLUDE?
- A will (defines how your assets will be divided, whom would become your children’s guardian in the event of children who are minors, who your executor is, etc.)
- A living will (defines your end-of-life preferences)
- Power of attorney (both for medical and financial decisions)
- Any trusts (provides additional details for how assets should be distributed and assists will tax strategy)
- Letter of intent (a letter for your executor or beneficiary explaining your wishes and any special requests)
WHY DO I NEED AN ESTATE PLAN?
Estate plans are beneficial to individuals with various levels of wealth, as they protect your assets and finances afer death while creating a smooth transfer to your loved ones. This is important, because without the included documents and instructions, your assets may end up in probate court and be distributed in a manner that does not align with your wishes. When a person’s property and assets end up in the court system, it also creates a burden for the individual’s family, as they have to battle with the court system to release your assets (which may be required for living expenses or funeral costs) while greiving. Having an estate plan in place can also benefit your family in other manners, such as reducing any inheritance taxes through careful planning and trusts or by protecting beneficiaries (outside influences, divorcing or controlling spouses, etc.)
While there is an obvious need for estate plans in relation to death, they are also useful while living in the event you were to become will or incapacitated. They provide the designation for your medical power of attorney in addition to providing specified individuals access to your assets to maintain your estate and handle your financial obligations.
Many people are familiar with the need to designate beneficiaries for IRA, 401(k), 403(b) and other types of retirement accounts, but what about non-retirement or “non-qualified” accounts? A Transfer on Death (TOD) designation when used correctly, lets named beneficiaries receive assets at the time of a person’s death without going through the probate process. In […]
Whether you’re choosing a Power of Attorney to make decisions on your behalf or filing the paperwork to become a loved one’s Power of Attorney, it is important to understand the various types and which type is best for your unique situation. TYPES OF POWER OF ATTORNEY: Limited (or Special) Power of Attorney: This type […]
To read part 1, click here. Last month, our Q&A focused on a few steps you should take to help ensure your assets are set to transition to your heirs in a private manner without the court system getting involved. In addition, we briefly covered the benefits of trusts and why you should revisit your […]
Protecting your assets and taking the necessary steps to provide a smooth transfer to your loved ones is important. Oftentimes, certain steps are not properly addressed, and a person’s assets end up controlled by the courts. Fortunately, for most people, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your assets and personal belongings transfer in a private manner.