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Tips for Getting Started on an Estate Plan and Staying Current

 

In order to plan for the future, you must consider it before it occurs. Whether your assets are large or small, estate planning will facilitate the administration of your affairs after your death, help you manage money during your lifetime, and preserve your wealth. Creating an estate plan will:
 

  • Ensure that assets are distributed according to your wishes

  • Help minimize estate taxes and court costs, as well as improve the distribution to beneficiaries

  • Protect your young children or grandchildren from receiving a large sum of money without any planning or direction (you can also nominate a guardian for your child)

  • Allow your business to continue after your death with a successor of your choosing, thereby reducing the chance of a forced sale

  • Allow you to choose an executor whom you trust, who knows your wishes, knows your family, and has knowledge of the contents of your estate, rather than a court-appointed executor

 

IMPORTANT POINTS TO CONSIDER

 

Employer-Provided Benefits

There can be serious tax implications on qualified retirement plans and executive benefit plans without proper planning. When these pass a generation, they will get taxed at regular income plus estate tax, which can leave as little as one third of the original balance for your heirs.

 

For Business Owners

Business owners have special considerations regarding their business interests. A sound succession plan needs to be in place in order to have successful closure for your lifetime of work. 

Some important things to consider:

  • Obtain a current business valuation

  • Establish a plan to sell or transfer your interest before you die

  • Secure funding for the transition

 

Tax Considerations

The estate tax bill to be passed on to your heirs may be unknown due to consistent changes in legislation and fluctuations in your net worth. For this reason, it is important to keep your estate plan current and to provide liquidity for the estate tax bill with a life insurance policy.


Beneficiary Options

You will be presented with several options when choosing the beneficiaries for your assets. Your spouse, children, grandchildren, and charity are all viable recipients of your wealth, but all pose different tax implications. It is also crucially important to make sure the custodians of your assets can and will transfer your wealth according to your wishes.

 

Seek Professional Advice

Estate planning is an involved and complicated process, especially for business owners and those with substantial wealth. It requires the knowledge of experienced professionals - such as your financial advisor, attorney, accountant, and trust officer - working as a team. And since you are never sure when the time will come, it is important to have a comprehensive plan in place today.

Reality: These conversations can be very challenging and hard for families to deal with. Having a plan is extremely valueable. Having a team to help you implement and mediate conversations is equally as valueable.

Who's on your team?