“The easiest estates to settle are those that are well-planned during the lifetime of the deceased,” Alexander Bove, Jr. reminds readers in The Complete Book of Wills, Estates and Trusts. If your estate plan is properly prepared, he adds, your will is going to make up only one part of that plan.
Goals of estate planning include:
- Simplifying and speeding up estate settlement
- Saving on taxes
- Avoiding probate costs and delays
- Avoiding lawsuits
- Taking care of beneficiaries who have special needs
- Providing for your own medical costs in the later part of life
One common misperception Geyer & Associates has noticed over the years of working with clients is that our beneficiaries – and we ourselves – don’t benefit until after our death! In reality, the best-constructed estate plans become operational upon completion, benefiting both the client and his or her family members both now and long into the future. One important reason for this is the conversation that results from well-done estate planning, conversations not only between the client and the estate planning attorney, but, best-case, among family members.
“Rather than keeping your estate plans under wraps, you may want to discuss them with your family to help them understand what you did and why,” is what Wells Fargo Advisers has to say on the subject. “Sharing intentions, plans, and information can be a good approach when you are planning to treat beneficiaries differently,” Wells Fargo adds. For example, you might leave one adult child his or her inheritance outright and put another’s into a trust. If children are counting on inheriting the family business, it may be helpful for them to know what plans you’ve made about the business.
In cases like these, Wells Fargo posits, if you don’t explain the reasons for your actions, the child treated differently may be left wondering whether you trusted or loved the other sibling more.
Charitable planning can serve as another example of an estate owner getting lifetime benefits. A charitable remainder trust (CRT), for example, benefits multiple parties: the donor, the individuals receiving income from the trust during their lifetimes and the chosen charity or charities.
The scout motto can apply to estate planning: The more careful the preparation, the greater the benefit!