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. This is because they protect your assets after your death and provide for a smooth transfer to your loved ones. Without the instructions included in an estate plan, assets often end up in probate court. Unfortunately, when this happens, assets are distributed per the court’s decision, not necessarily your wishes. When property and assets end up in probate court, it creates a burden for the family members involved. They then have to battle the court system while grieving to release your assets (for living expenses, funeral costs, etc.). 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.
On October 20th, we partnered with ThompsonMcMullan on a webinar to answer common probate avoidance planning questions. ThompsonMcMullan is a law firm with Estate Planning Attorneys located near our headquarters location in Virginia. Rebecca Bowen, an attorney with ThompsonMcMullan, presented alongside Peter Braden, one of Godsey & Gibb’s Wealth Management Advisors. TOPICS COVERED:…
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