3rd Oct 2014
One of the main reasons we find that people do not get around to doing their estate planning is the whole decision making process involved. How will your assets be handled after your death, who will you appoint as your trustee, executor, attorney-in-fact, etc.? These are the questions that keep people from making their plan.
Let us get this clear, not creating a plan is disastrous. If you die without a Will, intestate laws in most states will divide your estate between your spouse and your children. That’s right, that investment account you have will be be owned by your wife AND by your two year old daughter. Now your wife has to go to court to be established as the guardian for your daughter’s finances costing money and creating yearly court accounting requirements which are also public record.
Establishing trusts through the probate process is also costly and time consuming. Then the court, not you, decides who will manage assets. This could be a public trustee with about 100 cases to handle (in addition to a regular law or CPA practice) and no time to make sure your family gets the specifics they need while protecting your estate for the long term.
You do not have to make all of these decisions on your own. That is what an estate planner is there for, to get you from choices to results. We’ve made a list of some things that can help you get it done.
1) You do not need to pick the best person you know with finances to manage your assets. A trusted person is the most important as they can always hire financial advisors to help them.
2) There are neutral options such as trust companies if you have a difficult family situation. Many of these are not nearly as costly as you might think and have local trust officers so they can be more in tune with the needs of the families they serve.
3) Everyone has family problems; do not be embarrassed to discuss your child’s drug issues or your nephew’s criminal past. There are ways to provide for such situations in a caring manner that takes their issues into consideration.
4) Have a family business? Think about who is best to run it after you are gone and NOT who thinks they are entitled to it.
5) Fair doesn’t always mean equal. Not every child needs to have the same type of share or the same portion. If you leave the business or farm to the one child who runs it, then you can consider leaving life insurance or other assets to your remaining children.
6) This is a lifetime plan, not a one-time plan. Remember that as your family situation changes, so should your estate plan. Do not let worries over what may be keep you from dealing with what is.
Call us today for an appointment to get the decisions going and get it done!