Too often people believe that wills are for other people – those with more heirs, assets, or businesses to leave behind. The reality is that your will helps your heirs (and the courts) respect your final wishes.
By planning and setting your wishes in stone, you can minimize any legal meddling after you’re gone.
If you’re looking for a financial advisor or retirement planning services in Torrance, CA, you’re at the right stage to start thinking ahead. Building your estate plan now means that when your time comes, you’ll “uncomplicate” an emotional time for your loved ones. (And ensure Cousin Ron doesn’t snag your favorite tea set intended for your daughter.)
Ready to get started? As part of your well-rounded retirement savings program, craft a will to honor yourself and loved ones!
What is an Estate Plan, and How Does it Differ from Your Will?
You’re probably familiar with the concept of a will. Essentially, it’s a document that outlines who receives your asset when you pass away, including specifics such as antique barstools and beloved draperies.
An estate plan is a more comprehensive approach to caring for your affairs. Think of it as a multi-faceted approach to designate guardians, beneficiaries, and recipients in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Typically, an estate plan includes:
- Your will
- Trusts you establish for your assets
- Durable financial and healthcare power(s) of attorney
- Designations such as beneficiaries and guardianship
Together, these documents ensure your finances, investments, assets, and children are cared for appropriately if you’re sick or gone. A well-designed estate plan also establishes ownership of any businesses you own and minimizes taxes and fees against your estate.
Setting up an estate plan for when you pass away isn’t something you want to think about. Despite its obvious importance, everyone needs a will – and we have five helpful reasons why.
1. An Estate Plan Protects Your Beneficiaries
A comprehensive estate plan helps protect your interests when you’re gone, including your beneficiaries.
To start, designate guardianship or conservatorship of your minor children (and their inherited assets) in your will. You can also use estate planning to set up trusts to protect their financial future until they come of age. Doing so can minimize family discord and any resulting legal expenses.
Even if you don’t have minors, you probably have family, friends, or charities you hold dear. With a proper estate plan, you can ensure that your designated heirs receive what’s theirs, from your vacation home to your stock portfolio.
2. A Will and Estate Plan Keeps the Courts from Deciding Your Affairs
Not writing a will is about more than making sure your favorite family members inherit their favorite spoons. Without a will in place, it’s up to the courts to dole out assets and assign guardians to your children.
Keeping the government out of your affairs aside, a judge doesn’t know your family as you do. From preventing irresponsible children from squandering their fortune to ensuring your disinherited third cousin doesn’t strongarm their way into your estate, a designating will is the only way a probate judge will know your wishes.
Minimizing government involvement in your estate goes beyond deciding which child or sibling inherits your house or retirement accounts.
For instance, if you own your own business, an estate plan passes the reins to the proper person. And if you want to leave your estate to charity instead, how will the court know without your will?
3. How To Expedite the Distribution of Property
Speaking of the courts…
When a person with a more significant estate dies (generally over $150,000, depending on the state), their will goes through probate.
Essentially, this court process validates your will and helps distribute your assets. Assuming your will is ironclad, the probate process can zoom by quickly – and cheaply.
If you don’t have a will or your estate plan is challenged by creditors or snubbed heirs, then probate can drag on. Not only does this cost a small fortune, but it can exacerbate your loved ones’ grief during a painful time.
Fortunately, with a bit of time, money, and a financial advisor, you can sidestep the probate process altogether.
A well-designed estate plan can:
- Reduce your legal fees by keeping you out of probate court
- Protect your privacy (and that of your loved ones) by keeping your will out of public record
- Ensure that your beneficiaries receive what’s theirs after you’re gone
4. How To Reduce Taxes Against Your Estate
Another benefit of an estate plan and will is minimizing the taxes levied against your assets after you pass. You can leverage advanced strategies to bypass state and federal estate and inheritance taxes through comprehensive planning services. With the proper tools and accounts in place, you may even be able to make your heirs’ tax bills disappear entirely!
TAKWEALTH data-driven investment and estate management services are supporting retirees. Ask about our Estate Planning Checklist to begin!
5. How to Protect Yourself in the Event of Incapacitation
Just like dying, no one wants to think about the possibility they could develop dementia or fall into a coma. Yes you can do everything in your power to stay healthy in retirement, but the chances are a reality.
Ultimately, if you find yourself alive but unable to make decisions, you want your affairs in the hands of someone who will respect your wishes. Your estate plan can help by assigning the proper legal designations to the person(s) of your choice.
For instance, you can assign financial power of attorney to manage your finances if you can’t. Meanwhile, your healthcare power of attorney (healthcare proxy) can handle healthcare decisions on your behalf.
TAKWEALTH Helps You Prepare for the Inevitable
We aren’t estate lawyers – but we are experienced at handling retirement benefits and financial planning services in the state of California. Whether you’re looking for retirement planning or a CFP® PROFESSIONAL, we’re here to help you succeed!
We can craft a custom, personal financial long-term strategy to build your wealth with data-driven investment and estate management services. And, when the time comes, we can ensure you’ve engaged strategies that will pass on your assets tax-efficiently.
Work with us to start the investment strategy for estate planning conversation!