We know what you may be thinking. Estate planning can be morbid and no one wants to think about the end of life during the holiday season, but that’s all the more reason to start planning now. We’d like to change your perspective on estate planning and we ask you to think of it as more of a gift than an obligation.
A Gift for Your Loved Ones
Estate planning is a gift for your family in the form of peace of mind. By preparing for what will happen after you’re gone, you can alleviate the stress and guilt of having to guess at the type of service you want, where you want your assets to go and how they can honor your memory.
Let’s face it, when the time comes, your loved ones will be dealing with a lot of emotional hardships and if you don’t have a will or other legal documentation, the process for your family to get access to your accounts or property is lengthy and expensive. It’s called probate and it can take many months and lots of money to unlock real estate, account information or other assets for your spouse, children or grandchildren.
There’s also no guarantee that your things will go to the people or places you want them to. Let’s say you have a stepchild you raised as your own or are not married, but in a serious relationship. When you die, many state laws in the U.S. would not recognize that step child and your significant other may not receive any of your assets because there’s no legal documentation connecting them to your estate.
What better gift is there than saying, “No matter what happens to me, I want to take care of you”?
A Gift for Others
Thanks to their accompanying tax deductions, lifetime giving is a great option that allows you to see the money you are donating go to good use. While you may not think of charitable giving now as a part of your estate plan, discussing how much and when to give with a financial advisor can help reduce your taxable estate, which could help keep more of your money with your family down the road.
If you do plan to leave a donation after you’re gone, there are plenty of ways to do it. Using trusts, scholarship funds or donor advised funds can leave a legacy of giving to the causes you support. Because there are so many options available, your financial advisor can help you determine which course of action will fit your situation and best meet your needs.
You Don’t Have to Do it Alone
As you can see, there are a number of decisions to make when preparing your estate plan. But despite that, the process shouldn’t be difficult or intimidating. Your financial advisory team knows you and your situation. Now that you have the estate planning basics, they can help you take the next step and navigate the planning by asking the right questions and guiding you along the way. By utilizing the knowledge of trusted professionals, you can be confident that you have set you and your loved ones up for success.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.
This article was originally published on 12/8/18 in the Brainerd Dispatch.
Peg Chromy Webb has specialized in financial consulting for more than 30 years and is a popular co-host of the “Your Money” Radio Show. She is passionate about financial education and shares her expertise on career-building and financial literacy through various charitable endeavors.