For so many of us, family is paramount. You probably expect to use your wealth to take care of your family in the here and now—health care, travel, college tuition and the like. But chances are you haven’t thought nearly as much about positioning your assets so they’re ready and able to help the people you love after you’re gone. Even if you have made some headway in this area, your plan for your estate is probably a little—and maybe a lot—out of date.
If that describes your situation, don’t fret. Even if you have many moving parts to your finances, you can get on track by focusing on two main areas of estate planning: wills and trusts. Here’s how to do it.
WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY
Read this next sentence three times in a row: Everyone should have a will.
Got it? A will should be the basic foundation of every estate plan—the starting point for a well-conceived strategy to transfer assets at death.
A will identifies precisely what you want to have happen to your assets and estate. Dying without a will means you have decided that the state knows what’s best for you and your family. In addition, dying without a will means you want to make the settling of your estate as difficult, as costly and as public as possible.
As with any decision, there are both positives and negatives to a will. That said, we strongly believe the benefits of writing a will far outweigh the drawbacks.
- You decide on the disposition of your hard-earned wealth.
- Estate taxes are mitigated—especially when the will is part of a broader estate plan.
- You specify who the fiduciaries will be.
- You have to accept that one day—far in the future—you just might die.
- There is a legal cost associated with writing up a will and with estate planning.
BUT WHAT ABOUT A TRUST?
In our next blog, we will compare wills and trusts and determine if a living trust is best suited to your financial situation.
If you have questions about your estate and financial plan, give us a call. We would be happy to help you plan with confidence.