Developing your estate plan involves communicating and organizing how you want your affairs distributed and managed when you are no longer able to.
Your estate plan should do much more than simply determine what happens to your estate assets when you are gone. When properly created, your estate plan could determine who will manage your assets when you are no longer able to do to death or incapacity, protect you and your loved ones should incapacity strike, and provide for both the people and the causes you love both while you are here and after you are gone. The key to getting the most out of your estate plan is to work closely with:
- an experienced estate planning attorney
- an experienced tax advisor
- an experienced financial planner
At Decision Tree Financial we know how important your estate plan is to you and to those you love. We also understand how difficult it can be to share confidential and often sensitive information relating to that plan with a stranger which is why our goal is to create a relationship with you that will endure for your lifetime. By doing so, we are able to ensure that your estate planning needs and wishes are honored now and throughout the course of your lifetime.
The Benefits of Estate Planning
You have likely heard from well-meaning friends and family how important it is to have an estate plan in place; however, if no one explained why you need an estate plan it may explain why you have yet to create one.
Even the most basic estate plan ensures that you decide what happens to your assets when you die instead of letting the state intestate succession laws dictate the fate of your assets. The benefits of estate planning don’t stop there though. Estate planning can also help accomplish things such as:
- Protect your heard-earned assets
- Take advantage of tax laws to maximize value of your estate
- Plan for the possibility of your incapacity
- Contemplate the need to pay for long-term care
- Provide for a child with special needs
- Provide resources for your favorite charity, religious or educational institute
What Components Should Be Included in My Estate Plan?
Given the highly personal nature of estate planning, it is imperative to consult with an experienced estate planning team to decide what components you includue in your estate plan. There are, however, some components that are commonly found in the average estate plan, including:
- Probate avoidance – formal probate can take months, even years, to complete. Assets included in the probate of your estate are not available to the beneficiaries until the conclusion of the probate process which is why many people include probate avoidance strategies in their estate plan.
- Incapacity planning – incapacity planning is not just for the elderly. A tragic car accident could leave you incapacitated tomorrow. If you want to decide who takes over control of your assets and who makes decisions for you during your period of incapacity you must provide the legal authority for your choices now.
- Medicaid planning – your odds of one day needing long-term care increase the longer you live. The cost of that care may cause you to turn to Medicaid for help. Medicaid planning ensures that if you do need to qualify for Medicaid, you won’t lose your retirement nest egg as a result.
- Asset protection – your assets may be at risk in ways you have not though of, including the possibility of divorce, creditors, in-laws, and even spendthrift beneficiaries. Including asset protection strategies in your estate plan can greatly reduce the potential threats to your hard-earned assets.
- Charitable Giving – Choosing who to give to, when to give, what assets to give and how the gift will be made are all considerations for developing a charitable giving strategy.
Estate Planning and Charitable Giving is one of the topics discussed when our clients utilize Decision Tree Financial’s Wealth Performance and Protection System™. To find out more about this comprehensive approach to Estate and Financial Planning Click Here.