As little as any of us wants to think about death, no one lives forever. However, most people put off estate planning for far too long. Approximately 60% of Americans haven’t even created a will. The temptation to put off the difficult work till later, rather than think about such a grim topic, leaves many families unprepared.

Some of us tell ourselves we’ll never have to deal with the mess of our own tangled estate after we’re gone. Our families, however, will. There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones will be free of worry, even when you’re no longer there to take care of them.

What is estate planning? How do you go about doing it? Why is it so important? We’ll show you how you can get a will and other pertinent documents easily taken care of with the help of a financial advisor.

man in blue,white,and grey striped collared short-sleeved shirt

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate is a word that brings to mind the mansions of the wealthy, but really, it means your property, large or small. If you have a bank account, a home, or belongings, you have an estate.

Without a will or a living trust, there’s no way to be sure who will inherit your property. Depending on local laws, a court may assign inheritance to someone you didn’t have in mind. Your loved ones may waste years fighting each other in court, racking up not only fees but bad blood.

In your will, you can decide whether to leave the entire estate to one person, like your spouse or child, or divide it between a number of heirs. This is your chance to look after your children from a previous marriage or friends who matter to you as much as family. You can give your home to one of your children who has a family or your stocks to one who will handle them responsibly.

The next step in estate planning is determining what will happen to your dependents. If you have minor children, it’s vital to designate a guardian you trust to see them through to adulthood. Think of who you trust to raise your children with the care and values you do. You’ll want to designate funds, if you have them, for your child’s care or education. It’s important to discuss your plans with this person and have their agreement as well.

There’s much more that can go into estate planning. If you own a business, you’ll want documentation of who is to succeed you in management. If your family relies on your income, life insurance is essential. You may want a living will, which describes your medical wishes if you become incapacitated and designates someone to make decisions for you. You can even describe your burial wishes.

Good estate planning will leave all these decisions settled and documented, ideally in a way that spares your loved ones as much tax burden as possible. 

Why Use a Financial Advisor?

Inheritance and tax law are both thorny fields, so a financial advisor is essential for helping you navigate the briar patch. They can help you understand the laws in your area, select a good insurance plan, and minimize inheritance taxes.

Beyond this, they may have helpful advice on how best to divide your assets and responsibilities among your loved ones. Once you’ve described both your financial picture and the state of your family, they can suggest a fair division of your property and the documentation you need to make sure your wishes are followed. They don’t just know the law, they have experience with all kinds of estates, large and small, and the drama that can ensue without good planning.

Ready for Some Solid Estate Planning Advice?

One thing is clear: if you don’t have a plan, you have no control over what happens once you’re gone. And, as there’s no way of knowing how long you can afford to put it off, the best choice is to start planning now, while you’re hopefully a long way from needing it.

Whether your estate is large or small, it’s never too soon to get the paperwork settled. Contact us here at Advice Chaser to be matched with the perfect financial planner for your situation today!

As little as any of us wants to think about death, no one lives forever. However, most people put off estate planning for far too long. Approximately 60% of Americans haven’t even created a will. The temptation to put off the difficult work till later, rather than think about such a grim topic, leaves many families unprepared.

Some of us tell ourselves we’ll never have to deal with the mess of our own tangled estate after we’re gone. Our families, however, will. There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved ones will be free of worry, even when you’re no longer there to take care of them.

What is estate planning? How do you go about doing it? Why is it so important? We’ll show you how you can get a will and other pertinent documents easily taken care of with the help of a financial advisor.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate is a word that brings to mind the mansions of the wealthy, but really, it means your property, large or small. If you have a bank account, a home, or belongings, you have an estate.

Without a will or a living trust, there’s no way to be sure who will inherit your property. Depending on local laws, a court may assign inheritance to someone you didn’t have in mind. Your loved ones may waste years fighting each other in court, racking up not only fees but bad blood.

In your will, you can decide whether to leave the entire estate to one person, like your spouse or child, or divide it between a number of heirs. This is your chance to look after your children from a previous marriage or friends who matter to you as much as family. You can give your home to one of your children who has a family or your stocks to one who will handle them responsibly.

The next step in estate planning is determining what will happen to your dependents. If you have minor children, it’s vital to designate a guardian you trust to see them through to adulthood. Think of who you trust to raise your children with the care and values you do. You’ll want to designate funds, if you have them, for your child’s care or education. It’s important to discuss your plans with this person and have their agreement as well.

There’s much more that can go into estate planning. If you own a business, you’ll want documentation of who is to succeed you in management. If your family relies on your income, life insurance is essential. You may want a living will, which describes your medical wishes if you become incapacitated and designates someone to make decisions for you. You can even describe your burial wishes.

Good estate planning will leave all these decisions settled and documented, ideally in a way that spares your loved ones as much tax burden as possible.

Why Use a Financial Advisor?

Inheritance and tax law are both thorny fields, so a financial advisor is essential for helping you navigate the briar patch. They can help you understand the laws in your area, select a good insurance plan, and minimize inheritance taxes.

Beyond this, they may have helpful advice on how best to divide your assets and responsibilities among your loved ones. Once you’ve described both your financial picture and the state of your family, they can suggest a fair division of your property and the documentation you need to make sure your wishes are followed. They don’t just know the law, they have experience with all kinds of estates, large and small, and the drama that can ensue without good planning.

Ready for Some Solid Estate Planning Advice?

One thing is clear: if you don’t have a plan, you have no control over what happens once you’re gone. And, as there’s no way of knowing how long you can afford to put it off, the best choice is to start planning now, while you’re hopefully a long way from needing it.

Whether your estate is large or small, it’s never too soon to get the paperwork settled. Contact us here at Advice Chaser to be matched with the perfect financial planner for your situation today!

Estate Planning For Your Business

You know the importance of doing estate planning for the future of your family. You can protect your assets and look out for your loved ones when you are no longer around.

This takes on an even greater significance when you own your own business. Not only do you need to think about your own family, you also need to consider your business needs.

After pouring so much of your time and effort into your business, you probably want to protect its assets and make sure your life’s work is able to carry on after you are gone. It’s important to consider your employees too.

Here are four facets of business estate planning to consider. A financial advisor can help you with all of them.

4 Facets of Business Estate Planning

1. Documents

Estate planning involves doing some planning for the future, beyond your own lifespan, to protect your financial assets, business, and dependents. You should work with your financial advisor, and probably an estate attorney as well, to draw up the documents in order to protect your estate.

These are some of the same documents you might use for personal estate planning, yet can protect the interests of your business and business assets too.

Some of the estate planning documents to consider include:

  • Last will and testament: identifies who inherits your assets
  • A living trust: names a trustee who can manage personal and business assets for your beneficiaries
  • Power of attorney for both medical and financial needs: identifies a person to take over decisions for dependents or your own care if you are unable
  • Advance health care directive: identifies your wishes for health care

You want to consult with your financial planner and business attorney about all of these options. How you structure these documents will depend upon how you’ve structured your business.

2. Succession Plan

If you are like most business owners, you have poured your heart and soul into making your business successful. You want to have a plan in place in case you are unable to carry on running the business. There are a few possible succession plans to consider.

Part of estate planning and working with a financial planner is having a plan for retirement. You need to consider what you will do with your business when you retire. Will you sell it? Will a family member step in and take over? Will another member of the business team step in to run the business?

You also want to consider the scenario you will choose if you become ill or incapacitated and are unable to run your business. Who will step in when you are unable?

Options may include:

  • Handing the business on to a family member
  • Selling the business and passing on the proceeds to your loved ones
  • Passing the company on to a trusted partner or employee
  • Making the business employee-owned after you die or step down

Whoever you hope to take over when you’re gone, you’ll need to discuss your plans with them. Are they ready and willing to handle the responsibility? It’s wise to craft a buy/sell agreement in advance, making your plan official.

Each of these options comes with important legal and tax implications.

3. Insurance

As a business owner, you probably already spend a fair amount of time addressing your insurance needs. When working on your estate plan, you may want to include a life insurance policy for your business partners, which will allow them to buy your shares in the event of your death.

As the owner, you can also seek specialized insurance to protect your interests. Check into key person insurance as part of your estate plan. This will be paid out in the event a crucial member of your business dies.

4. Taxes

Any comprehensive estate plan will address taxes. You want to save your business and your heirs paying unnecessary estate taxes. One way is by using a living trust instead of a will, which keeps your assets out of probate and reduces tax burden.

It is always critical to work with a financial advisor and estate planning specialist in order  to minimize the tax burden your business will face should you die. 

Get Help Making Your Plan

While the idea of planning for when you are no longer alive might feel daunting, preparing a comprehensive estate plan protects your business and your loved ones alike. Even if you’re young and planning to stay at the helm of your company for a long time, it always pays to have a plan in case of the unexpected.

If you need help with your estate planning, our financial advisors can work with you to establish  a plan so your best interests are protected. Contact us today for more information about our financial and estate planning services.