Building Life Plans, One Client at a Time

7 Keys to Creating an Estate and Legacy Plan

When it comes to estate and legacy planning, many people may think about what they would like to do to help ensure that their family’s needs are met. But relatively few actually act on those thoughts.

And that’s natural enough. Who wants to contemplate dying? Who wants to think about your spouse or your children having to go on without you? But, of course, it does happen. And your family and other loved ones will be more likely to thrive down the road if you’ve paved the way for them.

How can you help ensure that your family will be properly taken care of when you’re gone?

  1. Plan ahead. Whether you have $100,000 or $100 million in assets, make sure you have allocated your assets in ways that will best help your family achieve their goals … whether that includes sending children to college, caring for an aging family member, or purchasing a home.
  2. Ease the administrative burden of your passing. Make sure your will, living trust, advance care directive, and other legal documents are up-to-date and in order. Do your IRAs and/or 401(k)s accurately name your beneficiaries? Are insurance premiums paid up? If you’re taking minimum required distributions from your IRA, is that being done automatically, so your family doesn’t have to deal with unnecessary paperwork? Mourning your loss will be difficult enough without forcing your family to untangle the threads of your estate.
  3. Understand what happens to your assets after you pass away. Who will be responsible for administering them? To whom will they go? When will they be received? How much will actually go to your family and how much will go to fees and/or to the IRS?
  4. Select someone to manage your affairs after you pass away. Make sure this person or entity is both willing and capable of helping to make sure your wishes are carried out.
  5. Make sure you have carefully thought through and addressed the needs of your minor children. Will they need a guardian? Make sure you have a “back-up” in case the person you have selected can no longer fulfill the role.
  6. Consider whether others—perhaps a disabled parent or other family member—need or could need your financial help. Does your plan adequately address their needs, now and in the future?
  7. You may have insurance, but is it the right kind—and in the right amount—to help your family through this difficult time? Is your estate structured in a way that will minimize the taxes they must pay, and help ensure they have the financial security you wish for them?

If you don’t make plans ahead of time, there’s a real likelihood that a large chunk of the wealth you’ve accumulated will go to the government.

So instead, determine how you want your assets to be distributed … who will get them … how they will be structured … and when they will be distributed. And do it soon, before you’re distracted by other events, by life’s little emergencies or, worse yet, a tragedy that changes your family’s landscape. You’ll find that it takes some time, planning, and effort to develop a comprehensive legacy plan, but it’s well worth it in terms of your peace of mind and the security you provide your loved ones.

We can help you determining whether you need one or more trusts, as well as help you find the right person to manage your affairs when you no longer are able to. Similarly, we can help you designate a guardian for your minor children and/or family members with special needs, if any, to look out after them and their interests.

We also suggest that you give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that your family won’t need to deal with the abundance of financial details that accompany someone’s death. We can help you make sure that estate taxes, funeral expenses, trust distributions, and probate—to name just a few potential headaches—don’t turn into heartaches for your family.

Your estate and legacy plan can also help you make your own life easier. Should you become incapacitated, it can ensure your wishes are carried out and your assets are protected.

To learn more about estate and legacy planning, please call or email us today at (925) 365-1533 or lifeplan@accretivewealth.com.

Accretive Wealth Management is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice.

Tags: , , , , ,