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Estate Planning

Estate Planning

April 12, 2024

Everyone hears ‘estate planning’ and usually one of three thoughts likely come to mind.

  • I am not old enough to need an estate plan yet.

Or

  • I am not a millionaire; my estate is pretty simple, so I don’t need one.

Or

  • I took care of it already…I know it’s around here somewhere.

Fun fact: All conclusions are giant red flags to me.

Why? Because for one thing, life happens, and as grim as it may be to say it, you never know what life has in store for you. And secondly, an estate plan goes well beyond your house and bank accounts.

Here are 6 things to consider when creating your estate plan:

  • Inventory everything - Watches, jewelry, electronics, vehicles, bank accounts, land, collectibles, and honestly the list could go on. (An estate planner or estate attorney would be able to help you create the full list.)

  • Write down your family’s needs. Think beyond food and shelter. Will your kids need college education? What about a daughter’s wedding? No kids yet? What will your parents need so you don’t burden them and their retirement plans? Be thorough.

  • Establish directives. Who will get guardianship of your children? Will there be a trust set up? What happens if you end up in the hospital and can not make your wishes known? Who will be power of attorney? Write it out. Leave nothing open to interpretation.

  • Make sure your beneficiaries are up to date. You should make it a habit to check these at least annually. Sometimes family dynamics change, or new additions come into the family.

  • Consider your state’s estate tax law. Nothing is simple when it comes to money, or the government. So, make sure that you know your state’s laws (or work with someone who will proactively help you with it) and be prepared for them. Unfortunately, many people are not, and the ramifications aren’t pleasant.

  • Reassess periodically. Like mentioned above with beneficiaries, life happens, things change. People move, change jobs, children are born, children get older, and so on and so forth. Making sure you have all your bases covered keeps things out of the courts and out of litigation. And nothing can tear a family apart quicker than legal disputes.

The best piece of advice someone can give you is to consult a professional. Best to coordinate it between an estate attorney and a good financial advisor. Make sure you are getting all the information you need to make the best decision for you, and your family.

 

Assurance Wealth Management does not offer tax planning or legal services but may provide references to tax services or legal providers.