Services: Fundamentals of Estate Planning
A well-structured estate plan is important. Through it you can control the distribution of your assets and possessions as well as name guardians for you children or plan care for other dependents.
Depending on the size and complexity of your estate you will want to involve your financial advisor, attorney, insurance agent, bank trust officer, and accountant. Such a team of professionals will help you analyze your current estate and your family’s future needs and take advantage of potential estate tax exclusions.
A thorough estate analysis requires gathering materials involving current and future income, property ownership, insurance, and any legal arrangements already in place including:
- Present income from employment and all investments
- Any expected deferred compensation
- All retirement benefits from Social Security, IRAs, pension, profit-sharing, and 401(k) plans
- Investment documents, certificates, passbooks, etc.
- Deeds to primary and vacation residences and personal property and valuables
- Life insurance policies of which you are the owner, the insured, or the beneficiary
- Your will and trust agreements
- Current and expected debts and obligations including loan balances, real estate liens, taxes payable, consumer debts, and estimates of funeral and estate settlement expenses
- Power of Attorney (POA) documents
- Living Will documents
If you start your estate planning early, there are methods that allow you to preserve your estate, minimize estate taxation, save your heirs needless effort and expense, and ensure your dependent children are cared for by persons you choose.
In preserving your estate you will want to consider the following:
- Use your unified credit to the fullest
- Draft a will
- Establish trusts
- Plan your charitable bequests
- Title assets properly
- Select guardians
- Use life insurance to its fullest advantage
- Plan for incapacity
- Check beneficiary designations
- Purchase a long-term care insurance policy
Successful estate planning requires a variety of expertise. By surrounding yourself with professionals to work through the many stages of estate planning, you and your loved ones will have a secure future.