Estate planning is not just for the wealthy.
Financial mastery is about mindful planning, no matter how large or small your estate is. You need your assets to go to the right people when you die (or should you become incapacitated). In either case, careful estate planning will prove to be a lifesaver.
Estate planning covers everything you own. Your hard-earned assets deserve to have a plan put into place for their transfer and safekeeping. Do you have a planning checklist? It can be worth your while to take the time to clearly plan for what happens to your estate.
The Role of Estate Planning
Estate planning involves the designation of your assets. This happens in the event of your death, though it is also important should you become ill or incapacitated. The goal is to ensure that your beneficiaries receive your assets.
The general idea of estate planning is that minimal taxes are paid on these assets. The taxes would usually include gift tax, income tax, estate tax, or anything else that applies.
Personal situations often change. Smart planning allows for flexibility and fluidity. As your circumstances change, an estate planning platform will fine-tune your personal and financial situations. The key to smart estate planning is to review your estate regularly.
Life events happen, be it the death of someone, the birth of a child, divorce, or any other changes that could affect your asset pool.
1. Plan For The Distribution of Your Assets
How do you want to distribute all your worldly assets if you die or become incapacitated? You need to think about it now.
An In-Depth Inventory Is an Essential First Step!
It might surprise you how much you own once you start compiling a listing of your assets. How many tangible and intangible items do you own?
Tangible assets include cars, boats, bikes, and other vehicles you might own. They are also your property, home, apartment, or any land you own. Do you have a collection of art and coins? Do you have antiques or cards you could trade? These all fall under the umbrella of tangible assets. Other assets could include jewelry, crystal, expensive sports equipment, and other personal items.
Meanwhile, stocks, bonds, and mutual bonds are all intangible assets. They also include any checking and savings bank accounts, and possibly certificates of deposit.
Other intangibles are insurance policies, retirement annuities, and a retirement plan. Intangible assets could also include health savings accounts, partnerships, or ownership of a business.
A value of your inventory, once tallied, will give you an estimate of the worth of your assets.
When To Call In The Experts
Certain assets require the expertise of a professional to determine the value of your asset worth. This could be an estate agent to give a valuation of your property, for example. Other useful information includes statements of your bank accounts and other financial accounts.
For a fair estimate of your assets, value the items based on how you might expect your beneficiaries would value them. This could give a good idea of the distribution to the recipients.
How Best Can I Protect My Assets?
Appoint A Guardian for Minor Children
Appointing a guardian for your minor children should anything happen to you is a grim, but necessary, task that is needed to secure their futures. Choose a second guardian when you create a will. Appointing a guardian will circumvent any costly legal battles that could occur later on.
Verify The Scope of Your Insurance Coverage
It’s important to factor in if you have a family to take care of. Is your insurance enough to cover any school or tuition fees? Do you have a child or children with special needs? The amount of insurance coverage will depend on your personal circumstances.
Finalize Future Family & Pet Care
Document your wishes regarding the care of your child or children. The same applies to taking care of your pets when you can no longer take care of them.
2. Establish Important Legal Directives
Your Living Will (Medical Care Directive)
Your living will (medical care directive) stipulates how you’d like to be taken care of. This happens should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
A revocable trust enables you to designate parts of your estate while you are still alive. Your trustee can take over should you become ill or incapacitated. When you die, the assets within your trust are transferred to your beneficiaries. The idea of a trust is to bypass probate (the legal process that distributes your assets).
It’s also wise to assign Power of Attorney, which enables another to manage your financial affairs when you become incapable. Limited Power of Attorney enables the representative limited power of handling your affairs. This can give your representative sufficient power to sign documents in certain situations, without giving them blanket control.
3. Ensure The Right Beneficiaries Get Their Due
It’s also important to review your beneficiaries as your circumstances change. This applies to events such as divorce, death, and the birth of more children. Never leave the beneficiary section on a document blank as this could become part of the estate. Making your decisions now will help prevent any legal battles that could arise after your death.
4. Understand the Tax Laws of Your State
The idea behind estate planning is primarily to minimize any inheritance taxes being incurred. Most estates won’t be eligible for the payment on these taxes, and it is usually only very large estates that are subjected to estate tax. Making sure you have a firm understanding of how your state operates will give you a better picture of what to factor into your planning.
5. Call On Professionals To Make It Happen
Get the help of a professional team to help you create the perfect estate plan.
If you are doubtful about any part of the process, you might want to consult an experienced team to help you plan your estate, such as our team of experts at Saddock Wealth. Remember that a professional can figure out any complicated implications that untrained eyes could miss.
Saddock is Here To Help
At Saddock Wealth, we are here to assist and offer a step-by-step guide for estate planning. Whether your estate is relatively small or large with many asset tiers, our team of professionals can make all the difference in securing your financial future.
Schedule a meeting or contact us to find out more about how we can assist.