As you begin to consider estate planning, it is imperative to consult industry professionals who can thoughtfully advise you through the process. For example, estate lawyers, tax professionals, and your financial advisor. These individuals will have the insight and tools to help you navigate estate planning basics and create an estate plan that designates your wealth to those who matter the most to you.
In its simplest terms, estate planning is the process of organizing your financial affairs before your death. Estate planning can help you determine who will receive your assets, how you will distribute any property you own, and how your debts and expenses will be paid and resolved. Through estate planning you can also arrange for the ongoing care of your children or family members in your care.
Following are 5 key aspects of estate planning to consider as you work with your advisor to protect your wealth and set you and your dependents up for a smooth transfer of assets:
1. Don’t delay!
While some people may think estate planning should wait until retirement, the reality is, tomorrow is not promised. Delaying decisions about your estate plans could put you and your loved ones at risk. If you have property and financial assets you would like to pass on to your children, family members, or specific individuals or organizations, the time to make those determinations is now. If you were to pass without establishing your desires, you run the risk of your assets going through state probate courts and being subject to intestacy laws, which by mandate, will determine who will inherit your assets without your input. Alternatively, having your estate plan in place allows you to decide how to distribute your assets in the way you want, even if your preferences don’t align with your state’s intestacy laws, which may immediately default to a spouse or next of kin.
2. Understand the process and costs involved
Engaging your financial advisor from the start will allow you to better understand the estate planning process, the costs involved, and how a transfer of assets matches your long-term financial goals. For example, you may choose to make large financial gifts prior to your passing to mitigate tax deductions. Or you may choose to sell off property to increase your financial investments and savings that will, in turn, increase your total financial assets. Whichever path you chose, your advisor can help you identify both current and future financial risks for allocating your wealth and assets upon your death. Additionally, they can also help prepare you to more fully understand any potential fees that may be incurred when your assets are being distributed, thus protecting the wealth you have worked hard to accumulate.
3. Establish beneficiaries
Establishing named beneficiaries for your assets can help avoid the state mandated probate process. and can expedite the distribution of your assets once you are gone. Your financial advisor can help you identify which of your financial accounts should have named beneficiaries, such as checking and savings accounts, life insurance policies, investments, etc. Assets with pre-determined beneficiaries will directly transfer to those individuals, as you have indicated, and will not be subject to probate or intestacy laws. Working with your financial advisor through this process can also help you determine how best to divide your assets amongst your named beneficiaries; equally, by percentages, different assets allotted to different individuals, etc.
4. Consider life insurance policies
Be sure to speak with your financial advisor about investing in life insurance policies and naming beneficiaries to those policies. The death benefit from a life insurance policy is one of the most precise inheritance strategies, as a permanent life insurance policy will result in a tax-free, lump sum payment to the named beneficiary you have indicated on your policy. You can also name multiple beneficiaries and determine how payments are allocated to each of them. This investment strategy not only allows you to accumulate wealth over time, but it also sets up your beneficiaries with a lump sum that may be needed to pay off any of your unresolved debts or inheritance taxes that may incur upon your death.
5. Look into establishing a trust to protect your assets
Similarly, your financial advisor can also advise you on the value of establishing a trust to protect your assets and ensure they are allocated to those you desire. As there are variances in how you set up trusts, your financial advisor can work with you to establish which options make the most financial sense for you given your assets and your personal circumstances. For example, establishing a trust which will protect and manage your assets and property will allow you to establish how the transfer of assets will take place, and to whom. For example, you can determine if your assets are distributed in smaller payouts to multiple family members or a larger lump sum to one designated recipient. Regardless, establishing a trust may be a logical investment strategy given the assets you own and how you envision distributing them.
While you are working hard to establish long-term wealth to live the life you envision now, you should also take the time to establish the necessary steps to protect that wealth and ensure it passes to those who mean the most to you. Meet with your financial advisor today to talk through strategies to determine what makes the most sense for you and how to set yourself up to leave a protected legacy.
At Paramount Wealth, our mission is to take you beyond the basics and help you have the freedom to live your most inspired life. Whether your goal is to live a life of abundance or help others by paying it forward, we invite you to contact us today to schedule time with an advisor to design your wealth and support your freedom.
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision.
The attached information was developed by Threaded Marketing Group, an independent third party. Any opinions are those of the author and not necessarily Raymond James. Any information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation.
There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions, or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or a loss regardless of the strategy selected. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.
These policies have exclusions and/or limitations. The cost and availability of life insurance depend on factors such as age, health and the type and amount of insurance purchased. As with most financial decisions, there are expenses associated with the purchase of life insurance. Policies commonly have mortality and expense charges. In addition, if a policy is surrendered prematurely, there may be surrender charges and income tax implications. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the insurance company.