Is you estate in order?
Many of us don’t like to think about
estate planning, because the process
reminds us that we are not going to live
forever. Yet if you want something of
yourself to live on, you should have a
comprehensive estate plan. And the best
time to start your estate planning is many
years before it will likely be needed.
A good estate plan can help you
answer many key questions: Who will
make financial decisions for me if I
become incapacitated? Who will take
care of my kids if I die prematurely?
How will my money and property be
distributed? How can I avoid probate?
Can I reduce, or eliminate, the estate
taxes my heirs may face?
To address these and other concerns,
you will need to work with your tax and
legal professionals to create an estate
plan that is appropriate for your needs.
You will also need to work with a
financial professional to select any
investments that may be needed within
your estate plan. While working with
these people, you may need to consider
– Ownership titles ” When it’s
time for your estate to be settled, the
ownership of all your assets ” real
estate, securities, retirement accounts,
etc. ” will be an important issue. Your
tax and legal advisors can help you
determine which forms of property
ownership ” such as joint tenancy, sole
ownership and tenants in common “
are suitable for your needs.
– Beneficiary designations ” It’s
obviously important to name
beneficiaries on life insurance policies,
annuities and other financial vehicles.
But many people don’t review their
beneficiary designations periodically “
and that’s a big mistake. If you get
divorced and remarried, or if you have a
new child, you will want to change or add
beneficiaries. If you forget, your family
could go through some major headaches
when it’s time to settle your estate.
– Will ” If you don’t have a will,
your wishes may never be fully
honored, because state law will dictate
how your assets are divided. And if you
have no living relatives, and you die
intestate (without a will), your estate
will go to the state.
– Living Trust ” If you only have a
will, your assets may have to pass
through probate ” which can be time consuming
and expensive. But with a
properly established living trust,
drafted by an experienced attorney,
your assets can pass directly to your
beneficiaries, without court
interference, legal fees, lengthy delays
and public disclosure. Also, a living
trust can give you more precise control
over how ” and when ” you want
your assets distributed.
– Durable General Power of
Attorney ” When you create a durable
general power of attorney, you can
appoint another person to conduct your
business affairs if you are physically or
mentally unable to manage them
– Health Care Directive/Living
Will ” By establishing a health care
directive or living will, you are
providing evidence of your wishes
regarding the administration of life-prolonging
procedures when you are no
longer able to communicate.
Proper Planning Takes Time
It can take months, or even years, to
get your estate plans in the shape you
want ” and you’ll still probably need
to make changes as you progress
through life. So, don’t delay. Get started
on your estate planning soon. It can be
a lot of work ” but it’s worth the effort.
Charlie Wick and Tina DeWitt are Investment Representatives with Edward Jones. They can be reached in Eagle at 328.4959 and in Edwards at 926-1728.