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Did you make any resolutions for 2017? While most people focus on getting in shape or eating healthier, it’s also worth making “financial fitness” a priority in the new year. One key step is to make sure you have an up-to-date estate plan. Without a properly updated will, you have no guarantee that your wishes will be honored — plus, you may jeopardize your loved one’s peace-of-mind and financial stability.
To help get you started, the Robin S. Weingast team presents these ten estate planning tips:
1) Make a plan (and update it!): It may sound obvious, but many people realize they need an estate plan but stop short of actually making one. It’s not enough to say “I need a plan” — you have to take the next step and either make a plan or work with an advisor to create a plan. Once you have that plan, it’s vital to keep it updated.
2) Make sure you don’t confuse equal with equitable: Many people believe that if you split things evenly amongst your beneficiaries, that you’re being both equal and equitable. In fact, you need to consider each beneficiary’s individual context to make sure your distribution is equitable.
3) Choose the right executor or trustee: Many people assume a family member is the right choice as an executor or trustee for your estate plan. In fact, family members may not be the best choice and a trusted, non-related executor may make it easier for the process to go smoothly.
4) Involve family members from the beginning: While a family member may not be the right executor of your plan, it is key to keep your family members involved from the start of your process. This will help avoid awkward conversations when your plan has already been developed, and will make their lives easier when it comes time to follow your estate plan.
5) Understand and plan for all tax situations: Are you aware of how every tax situation may affect your estate plan? this is where having a plan advisor comes in handy, especially one who is current on all tax rules and regulations.
6) Consider the impact of long-term care: Your health situation now may not be your health situation 5 years from now. Understand what your long-term care needs may be, and plan for them. (Click here to check out our blog posts on long-term care planning for more information)
7) Update your beneficiaries: Families grow and change over the year — make sure your estate plan considers new arrivals.
8) Use lifetime gifting: This will help make sure generations beyond your children will benefit from your planning.
9) Use trusts: Trusts give you more control over how your assets are maintained and distributed.
10) Follow the plan: Once you’ve done the hard work of creating a plan, it’s important to make sure you follow it. Just like a personal trainer keeps you on track at the gym, an advisor can help keep you on track.
Need more help as you tackle your financial fitness? The Robin S. Weingast & Associates team is up-to-date on all estate planning needs and would be happy to work with you to create a plan or evaluate your current one. Contact us today to set up your free consultation!