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Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is completing tasks required to manage an individual’s assets when they become incapacitated or pass away. Estate planning can include dividing assets among heirs and settling estate taxes. The purpose of estate planning is not only to ensure that your heirs are well taken care of after your death but can also lower tax bill during your life and keep more for your family and legacy. Estate planning helps bring peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be upheld after you pass on.

The Estate Planning Process

  • Inventory – Your assets include homes, land, other real estate, cars, motorcycles, boats, coins, art, antiques, trading cards, and other personal possessions. It is essential to include your intangible assets such as checking accounts, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, retirement plans, HSAs, and business ownership. Include any tangible and intangible assets in your inventory and get an estimation of their value.
  • Consider your loved one’s needs – After you have an idea of the value of your real estate, consider how to protect your assets as well as your loved ones after your death. Ensure you have enough life insurance to cover any living costs such as a mortgage payment or college tuition bills. Select a suitable guardian for your children. Document your wishes for the care of your children. Do not make any assumptions.
  • Establish directives – Complete estate planning includes necessary legal directives such as a trust, a medical care directive, a durable financial power of attorney, and a limited power of attorney. It is imperative that you carefully select individuals who will do the right thing regarding having your life and your assets in their hands, literally. Sometimes it may be wise to assign medical and financial representation to different people. Be sure to select a backup for each.
  • Review beneficiaries – Be sure that all of your financial accounts and other assets have appropriately designated beneficiaries. Do not ever leave beneficiaries blank on any kind of account. Be sure to review regularly and update as needed, especially if you get a divorce and wish to change your beneficiary to your new spouse once you get re-married. A beneficiary designation can outweigh what is in a will.
  • Have professional help – It is vital to have a financial estate planner on your side who can assist in this tedious process as your life changes and grows over time. Meet with your financial advisor regularly to ensure that all of your information is up to date.

Legacy Planning

Legacy planning is a kind of financial strategy that prepares your assets to be bequeathed to your loved ones or next of kin based on your wishes. Affairs are planned by and with your financial advisor. Not only does your financial advisor assist in ensuring that your current assets are designated to go to the proper heir, but they also help plan for the growth of your estate and legacy throughout your life. Your financial advisor will ensure that you leave behind a gift that will serve your loved ones’ needs after your passing.