Five Simple Steps for Planning Your Estate



If you care about what happens to your possessions and your family after your death, you owe it to yourself to engage in estate planning.

Your estate plan will include a variety of documents that indicate your wishes for how your assets will be distributed, what sort of healthcare decisions you would like to make, what you would like to have happen to dependents and a variety of other important decisions.

Here’s a quick overview of the most important estate planning and wealth management steps to take:

  • Create a will and trust: Your will allows you to state who you wish to inherit your property and to name a guardian for any minor children you have, should you and the other parent pass away before they reach adulthood. A trust gives you a means of holding that property tax-free so your survivors will not have to deal with your assets passing through probate court, which would extend the time and expense associated with estate administration.
  • Establish healthcare directives: Healthcare directives are documents that include all of your wishes about medical care, giving instructions to your loved ones and care providers so they know what decisions you would want them to make if you are incapacitated. This helps spare them from having to make potentially difficult decisions based only on what they think you would do.
  • Establish financial power of attorney: Durable power of attorney for finances enables your chosen agent to take care of financial matters and your property on your behalf if you become unable to manage your own affairs. They will be able to pay taxes, sell property, pay off debts and manage assets and accounts.
  • Plan your funeral: Leave instructions about your end-of-life wishes regarding organ and body donation, whether you want to be buried or cremated, the kind of funeral or memorial services you wish to have and how you will pay for funeral expenses. You can leave a specific account or amount of money in your will designated for these related expenses so your loved ones don’t have to worry about how they’re going to cover the costs.
  • Name a trustee and estate executor: You will need to appoint certain individuals to administer your estate on your behalf. The estate executor will be tasked with distributing assets, paying off estate debts, managing the probate process, locating important documents and other logistical issues of this nature. You can also name trustees to manage trust assets until your minor children come of age and can legally inherit those assets. This will protect those assets until your children have reached the age of majority.

These are just a few of the examples of ways in which you can use your estate plan to protect yourself, your assets and your children. If you would like to learn about wealth management strategies, contact Member Services with any questions or to set up a consultation. We’d be happy to sit down with you to discuss which approaches to wealth management and estate planning would work best for your situation.

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