Simply the word 'Estate' alone can throw most people off including an estate plan in their retirement strategy. However, there is a lot more to who gets your belongings when you die. Spoiler alert: You don't need millions or billions to get planning!
Estate planning is a financial strategy that prepares an individual to pass on their wealth and possessions to loved ones. Even if you don't have a lot to give in your eyes, most people have assets they want to pass upon their death. Therefore it's important to note that an estate plan is not just for the rich or elderly.
A well designed estate plan can do a lot for you and your loved ones. Deciding what happens to whatever is left of your money when you die is often passed over. There are many parts to estate planning, we’ve simplified a couple of those parts and how you can leverage estate planning to cater to you and your families needs.
A will is a document that spells out who gets what when a person passes. It's important for everyone to have a will made in case of emergencies. Assets covered by a will go to those named in the will. This might include bank and investment accounts, personal property, collectibles and other assets. It can also specifically exclude those who someone doesn’t want to benefit from their estate.
Both financial advisors and attorneys play a big role in will planning. The right advisor should encourage their clients to review their will and have any needed changes made every few years. This is especially true if there has been a life change such as a marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse. Wills should be prepared by a professional who is well-versed in estate planning, including the laws of their specific state.
Certain assets pass to heirs based on beneficiary designations. These are known as “will substitutes.” This means that the beneficiary designation overrides anything that might be in the client’s will regarding the distribution of the asset. A couple of examples of these assets would be:
- IRA accounts
- Workplace retirement accounts such as a 401(k)
- Life insurance policies
It's important that these beneficiary designations are current, especially after a major life change like getting divorced or getting married.
A trust is a legal vehicle that holds assets for the benefit of the trust’s beneficiaries. A trust may conjure images of the rich and wealthy, but trusts can work well for people at various levels of wealth. Trusts can be used to ensure that assets are managed for the benefit of heirs until they are ready to manage them on their own.
Trusts can be established to hold assets while clients are alive and also be funded upon their death in other cases. An irrevocable trust is a trust that allows the creator of the trust to get the assets placed in the trust out of their estate and not be subject to any estate taxes. In exchange they surrender all ownership of and control over these assets.
A Couple of Things to Consider
Once you have your estate plan made, it is not something that you can forget about. As you approach your review process, you are looking to ensure that your intentions have not changed, that the right people are included, that major life changes are reflected, and that all other major changes are notated.
Effective estate management enables you to manage your affairs during your lifetime and control the distribution of your wealth after death. An effective estate strategy can spell out your healthcare wishes and ensure that they're carried out – even if you are unable to communicate. It can even designate someone to manage your financial affairs should you be unable to do so.
At Agemy Financial Strategies, we have an array of will and estate planning solutions to guide you through the entire process of creating last wills and testaments, living trusts, powers of attorney, and living wills — all with the help of our trusted financial planners.
If you have any questions on our company, services, values or more, contact the retirement income specialists at Agemy Financial here today. Our financial advisors in both Denver, Colorado and Guilford, Connecticut are waiting for your call.