Did you know that if you do your estate planning incorrectly your estate could be destroyed from taxes inflicted on the transfer of your assets upon your death? The estate planning checklist can prevent that from happening.
Can you just imagine … all your efforts to help your family or loved ones being squandered by mistakes made on a piece of paper?
Sadly, these mistakes happen all the time. So, it’s overly necessary you get this right.
We figured as much.
In this article you will be given a checklist to follow that will help you avoid the mistakes most people make when doing estate planning. Helping to ensure your wishes are honored upon your death.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the arrangement of transferring an individual’s estate at the time of death. An estate consists of all property owned by said individual before it’s divided by a will, a trust or intestacy laws.
When estate planning the property included can be real property such as real estate (homes), investment properties or personal property. For example, personal property items include jewelry, bank accounts, automobiles, etc.
Typically, estate planning will involve an all-encompassing consultation with advisors of your choice, often including financial advisors, lawyers, and other financial counselors required to be involved.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Estate Planning
If you have a robust estate you don’t want to leave it up to someone else to handle it. The purpose of estate planning is to create a plan that confirms all property will be distributed according to your decree. And those made to benefit from the estate receive what you intended with the least amount of delay.
More important than the financials, it encourages each individual to make the important decision that affects others the most. Decisions like selecting a proper guardian for minors, healthcare specificities and arrangements for the funeral. Decisions that could elevate the stress to those being left behind.
You don’t want that for them, do you?
What Documents Do I Need For Estate Planning?
Every estate plan needs to have specific documents set in place. These are basic pieces needed. However, it’s important to know that some individual estate plans depending on the size of the estate can have some other documents requested by your professional estate planning advisor.
Remember: Inadequate planning and documentation can lead to a mishandled distribution of your assets. Here are those documents.
- Guardianship Designations
- Durable Power of Attorney (POA)
- Letter of Intent
- Health Care Power of Attorney (HCPA)
- Beneficiary Designations
It’s important you get more information about each of these from your estate planning professional. Virtus Wealth recognizes the importance of estate planning and also is aware of all of the new tax laws that can assist your estate plan even further. To find out more call (817) 717-3812.
You might be asking yourself …
What’s The Difference Between A Will And Estate Planning?
One thing is certain, both wills and estate plans are important legal documents. They both manage to make sure your family or loved ones don’t suffer financial ruin and hardship upon your death.
With that similarity out of the way, most people think they are pretty much the same thing, which to the novice would seem correct.
Let’s unwrap each one and see how they differ.
- A Will – is a document that contains information, a set of legal instructions is a more accurate description. It’s the rules on the distribution of your assets.
You can also appoint guardians through a will, who will look after your relatives or other family members if they need assistance (the specifics can vary). An optimized will makes sure that your belongings are divided up as you intended.
This is handled by the executor or personal representative.
- An Estate Plan – is a broader term and document, instead of doing all of the finer selections of who does what, the estate plan is about the execution of a process.
This process involves the arranging and distribution of the assets in a way that generates the maximum reward to the beneficiaries.
Estate planning guarantees that your family or loved ones are left with the largest amount of proceeds. It also allows you to name a trustee that can ensure the smooth delivery of your business assets and more.
But you’ll be surprised to discover…
Just when you think you are in the clear, and you have all this legal armor to protect your estate, not following a simple estate planning checklist will leave your plan vulnerable.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Don’t Take Any Chances
Trusting your estate advisor is what you should do, they are the professionals. But you still need to be informed and know what mistakes need to be avoided for maximum success. Make sure you use this estate planning checklist to cross your t’s and dot your I’s.
- Not having a Will/Trust – We talked about this… it’s a must (period).
- Choosing the wrong guardian – This is a big mistake some make, there are several factors to consider. Speak with your advisor to find out the best questions to consider.
- Not naming a back-up trustee – This is one Virtus Wealth Management has witnessed many times, sometimes a trustee can back out or refuse other duties.
- Not Funding Trusts – Speak with your estate planning advisor.
- Not coordinating beneficiary designations – Simply put, you may have multiple financial accounts with different beneficiaries on each than what you have in your will. Be clear about what you want. Not being uniform in all accounts can cause issues later.
- Not taking advantage of gifting exemptions and/or gifting wrong assets – Speak with your estate planning advisor.
- Not reviewing plans at least every 3 years – It’s very important your plans are up to date with your most current wishes. Things change.
- Naming children as beneficiaries – This can cause unexpected problems and expenses, and in some cases cause a major depletion of the funds left behind for them while they are a minor.
- Not understanding IRA and Pension Rules – Speak with your advisor regarding the best way to proceed.
- Having an overly complicated estate plan – Virtus Wealth Management believes in the K-I-S-S theory (keep it simple). In some cases, simplicity is the best way to go. Talk with your trusted advisor to get help simplifying your estate planning checklist.
Summary and Next Steps
So what have we learned?
- You learned to use an estate planning checklist to avoid tragic mistakes.
- You learned what documents you need in your estate plan.
- You learned the difference between a will and an estate plan.
- You learned why you shouldn’t ignore estate planning.
So what now?
Well, as you paid close attention to this article… you hopefully noticed that trusting Virtus Wealth Management is a good starting point if you’re curious about discussing an estate trust.
We have years of experience and provide wealth preservation strategies that make sure our clients are happy and satisfied. Always delivering the support and financial guidance you need. Give us a call at (817) 717-3812, and make sure you have your estate planning checklist handy so you don’t leave anything out.
The information provided here is for general information only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation or personalized investment advice.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice.
We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
Virtus Wealth Management and LPL Financial do not provide legal advice or services.