Friday, April 16, 2021

Thinking About Estate Planning? What You'll Need to Include in It

Your property, cash assets, and debts will all need to be settled after you pass away. To protect your loved ones, it's critically important that you have your information in order. This doesn't mean that you have to have a price tag on each item you own, but you will need a list of

  • real estate
  • collectibles
  • power tools
  • vehicles
  • account numbers to your investment accounts
  • phone numbers to account managers
  • insurance policies

Anything that can be thought of as an asset or a liability will need to be addressed upon your death, so try to get on top of this while you're healthy enough to get things organized.

Structure Is Key

What are you trying to fund and who do you want to help when you're gone? There are many different ways to pass on what you've accumulated over the course of your life. Connecting with an estate planning attorney early in the process can help to simplify things for those you leave behind.

If you want to put your remaining retirement monies in educational trusts for your grandchildren, set up the accounts before the money is available so it will flow through with minimum fees. 

For those who have a dependent who's special needs or will be collecting disability funds, a special needs trust will be needed. It's critically important that you get the structure set up before the money becomes available.

Simplify Where You Can

Consider what items you can easily pass on by listing the beneficiary as a partial owner. If you pre-decease your spouse, your belongings will generally go to them automatically, but if you are a single or a widow, you can reduce the burden on your beneficiaries by setting up payable-on-death arrangements to keep big ticket items out of probate.

Having a will doesn't protect your beneficiaries from having to go through probate; it actually makes probate a requirement. Tools such as a joint ownership deed on real estate and payable-on-death bank and retirement account structures will protect your loved ones from the time and legal hassles of funneling your estate through the courts.

You want your loved ones to think of you fondly, so do what you can now to protect them from having to deal with estate pressures on your death. Inventory what you have. 

Set up a list of bank accounts, retirement accounts, and insurance policies with contact phone numbers and passwords. Put this list in a very secure place and let your loved ones know where to find the information.

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