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What is Will and Estate Planning?
For many individuals, will and estate planning is a difficult subject to discuss and even more so to plan for as it brings up topics of their own mortality. However it is indeed something you need to talk about with your family and loved ones as you can’t obviously do so after your gone. And remember that no estate plan is exactly the same, and so your plan should be based on your personal priorities and goals.Every estate plan has essentially three core aspects and goals:
Leaving assets and providing for your loved ones.
Ensuring that your estate is distributed in the most efficient manner possible.
Minimizing probate fees and taxes during your lifetime and for your beneficiaries
Our Will and Estate Planning process
As we go through the various stages of life, we spend an enormous amount of time accumulating wealth and building assets for our family and loved ones. However, passing on your wealth and assets without unnecessary taxes or expenses requires prudent estate planning. Your estate plan is as unique as you are, and taking the time to complete your estate plan now will enable you to provide for those closest to you.Our estate planning process involves eight easy steps to create a plan that reflects what’s most important to you and your loved ones:
Seek out the right advisors and professionals
The complexity of your situation will determine which professionals you will need and what expertise is required.
Design a family balance sheet
This is a summary of your family’s financial situation that ultimately determines your family’s net worth.
Determine your life insurance needs
It’s critical to work with your advisor to determine what your optimal insurance needs are. Life insurance proceeds can be used to replace income, pay estate expenses, or leave an inheritance.
Create your Will
The purpose of your Will is to designate such critical components as the identity of your executor, how assets are to be distributed upon death, and any needed guardians for your dependents.
Establish powers of attorney
This step helps you to protect your assets in the event that you are not able to manage them or make the necessary ongoing discussions. You can prearrange through a power of attorney precisely how you would like someone to make financial or personal care decisions on your behalf.
Minimize taxes and probate fees
When your estate incurs income tax or probate fees from the government, your beneficiaries will ultimately receive less money. The goal of estate planning is to therefore minimize these types of expenses by reducing or eliminating which assets pass through probate or which trigger taxes upon transfer of ownership.
Keep track of accounts and important information
One of the more challenging elements of settling an estate for an executor or family members is in trying to gather all of the relevant information. For this reason, try to centralize all household information such as identification papers, financial account information, and legal documents. Once you have documented all of these items, store a copy and let someone close to you know where it is.
Review and update regularly
Once your estate plan is properly designed, it must be reviewed and updated on an annual basis. Summarizing and tracking current values of your financial and non-financial assets will help you progress towards your specific estate planning goals. This should include a review of such items as your insurance coverage, beneficiary designations, registered investment accounts, and pensions.
The Benefits of Will and Estate Planning
Too often is the case where people lament over not looking after their estate plan or affairs much sooner in life. Whatever your status, stage, or goals are, everyone can benefit from prudent estate planning. Unfortunately, too few people know about this or follow this advice. Planning your estate or explaining your plan to your loved ones and family can protect your estate and, just as importantly, enable your beneficiaries to prepare themselves for their pending circumstances.