Ten Estate Planning Success Tips
Have You Planned for the Future Yet?
So you’re worried about the future, you want to make sure that not only your spouse, family and property is taken care of when you pass, but you want to make sure you’re taken care of while you’re still here. There is a lot of information out there to sort through, some of it is conflicting, and all of it is confusing. Here are some basic tips to help you get started:
- Update your documents regularly. We honestly cannot stress this one enough. Keep your legal residence address, marital status, children and their potential guardians, and other documents updated.
- Keep track of beneficiaries for all of your IRAs, qualified plans and insurance policies. Do you know who your beneficiaries are for these assets? If you don't, they may be going to someone you no longer wish to receive them, such as an ex-spouse. You can easily change the name of the person who will receive their benefits by filling out a form and submitting it.
- Maximize the liquidity of your estate. Liquidity is defined as the ability to quickly turn assets into cash. Without sufficient cash to pay taxes, funeral, and other expenses, your family may have to sell illiquid assets - such as a family business or other property - at an inopportune time, and for less than full value.
- Maintain an Appropriate Mix of Investment Risk. It's not the best idea to have too much money allocated to risk in stocks or mutual funds, as you age. Over time, more risky investments should be moved into safe and stable investments such as Annuities to ensure you are leaving an inheritance.
- Name a dependable executor and/or trustee. Executors are called upon to collect assets, pay obligations, and distribute your assets. Your trustee must enforce all the provisions of any trusts you created. Choose someone who will have the knowledge, integrity and stamina to fulfil these obligations in the face of pressure from family members and lawsuits.
- If you have minor children, consider naming one guardian for your minor children and another for the property you've left to support them, this will help ensure that your child will receive the full amount you’ve left them when they come of age.
- Estate planning for your spouse or other sole survivor scenarios. If your net worth is high enough, your estate may be subject to taxes. A simple estate plan using trusts can save some individuals hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes.
- Make sure you are leaving the right assets to the right people with the right protections and provisions. If your child or other dependent has special needs or has been irresponsible with money in the past, you may not leave wish to leave them with the money to handle on their own. Make sure any minors receive much needed management assistance along with the cash.
- Planning is even more difficult for business owners, who must plan for the succession and/or the buy-out of their business after they pass. Make sure any preparations that are needed for a smooth transition are taken care of.
- Consult a professional. This may seem obvious, but we do have to say it. Estate Planning is a complex and difficult subject for most people to take care of on their own, and simple mistakes can cost you and your family tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But Wait, There’s More!
Got all those taken care of? Well don’t relax just yet; there are still dozens of other questions you need to take care of before you’re done. Have you protected your assets from all unnecessary taxes? Have you established trusts that will be safe from predatory lawsuits? Are your documents up to date with the ongoing changes in laws, policies and eligibilities? Have you made sure to secure a portion of your assets in case you need nursing home care or are you planning to try and give everything away beforehand? These are things you need to take care of before your planning is truly complete.
At the Estate Planning & Asset Protection Law Center, we provide a unique education and counseling process which includes our unique 19 Point Trust, Estate and Asset Protection Review to help people and their families learn how to protect their home, spouse, life-savings, and legacy for their loved ones, click here for more information. We provide clients with a unique approach so they understand where opportunities exist to eliminate problems now as they implement plans for a protected future.
We encourage you to attend one of our free educational workshops, call 800-964-4295 and register to learn more about what you can do to enhance the security of your spouse, home, life savings and legacy.