Estate Planning – More Than Just a Will
Estate planning is the process of documenting a plan for the distribution of your assets and specifying directions for your legacy intentions in advance of your passing.
An estate plan is much more comprehensive than a will, and provides a more detailed guide for your beneficiaries than a will does on its own.
What to Include in Your Estate Plan
Your will is a key component of your estate plan. But an estate plan includes much more. It includes power of attorney (POA) for the circumstance where you may, unfortunately, suffer disability before your passing, distribution of more complex assets such as vacation properties, family heirlooms, collectibles, etc., management plans of a family business if there is one, philanthropic directions, the naming of guardians for dependents and/or children, and how to deal with other specific issues that may arise on your passing.
Who Should be Named in Your Estate Plan
An estate plan should also name the people designated to carry out your directions. These may include an executor and/or estate trustee to ensure the estate plan is followed, guardian(s) for the physical custody of dependents or children, financial POA, and medical POA for personal care, if necessary, prior to your passing.
Naming backups for each of the above is ideal in case the primary allocations are not available or capable at the time of your passing.
Additional Benefits of an Estate Plan
A well-thought-out estate plan provides for the effective transition of your assets to your beneficiaries with as little friction as possible. It can also minimize expenses such as probate fees, legal and executor fees, taxes, and creditor claims if properly constructed.
Who Should Have an Estate Plan
Ideally, every adult should have an estate plan. Once a person reaches the age of majority, they should begin documenting their financial assets and obligations and formulate an initial estate plan. It is then much more efficient to revisit this plan on a regular basis as your family grows and your financial situation changes. Working with an experienced estate planner or financial advisor will ease this process.
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This content is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, tax, legal or accounting advice nor does it constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities referred to. Individual circumstances and current events are critical to sound investment planning; anyone wishing to act on this content should consult with his or her financial partner or advisor.