Have you taken the time to create an estate plan? If not, you’re far from alone. Only 46% of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents, according to a survey by Gallup. For those under the age of 50, the figure is even lower, with just 36% having an end-of-life plan in place. However, skipping this important financial step could leave your loved ones in a confusing situation down the road.
By taking the time to arrange your affairs and finances, you’re not only ensuring an easier time for your family, but you may also be protecting yourself while you’re still alive.
Some common questions throughout the estate planning process are:
- Do I need a trust if I already have a will, and what’s included in a trust?
- What are the benefits of setting up a foundation?
- How do I transfer my business to my children?
- How can I protect and maintain the legacy my family has built?
- Who will take care of things if I’m incapacitated or die prematurely?
- How can I limit my estate tax liability?
- How much life insurance should I have?
We answer some of these questions below, but the answer depends on each family’s unique situation. Let us guide you through this process of securing your future.
SELECTING YOUR BENEFICIARIES
The first thing to consider as you create your estate plan is who you will name as your beneficiaries. Try to avoid framing the decision as, “Who should I leave everything to?” as that can put an enormous—and unnecessary—burden on both yourself and the individual you name. Instead, think about the following considerations:
- Are you supporting anyone financially?
- Are you married?
- Do you have children?
Outside of loved ones, you may also want to give to a charity you’re passionate about. If you’re planning to name a child as a beneficiary, keep in mind that there are restrictions on funds they can receive if they’re a minor. To avoid this, you may want to set up a trust or appoint a close family member or friend to oversee the distribution of your assets—we’ll go over this shortly.
DECIDING ON A METHOD OF TRANSFER
As you work to ensure your beneficiary is awarded the assets they’re entitled to, it’s important to explore all of the transfer methods available to you:
A Written Will
When you think of traditional estate planning, a will is likely the first thing that comes to mind. However, you should think of your will as the foundation of your estate planning rather than its only component.
This document can only control property that is subject to probate, which leaves many of your assets unprotected. Property in a living trust, retirement plan proceeds, and stocks and bonds held in beneficiary are just some of the assets you’ll need to plan for outside of your will.
A trust is a legal vehicle that allows a third party — also known as a trustee — to manage a trust fund on behalf of a beneficiary. A trust can not only be used to minimize the fees loved ones face, but they can also create a long-lasting plan for you to give to a charity of your choice.
In addition to giving you the ability to control who receives your assets, a trust also specifies when, which can be helpful if your beneficiary is a young adult or a minor.
Transfer on Death
If you don’t plan to use a trust, a transfer on death designation can transfer assets directly to a beneficiary without the need to go through probate. Traditionally, a transfer on death designation is usually associated with an investment account for stocks, bonds, or other non-qualified or post-tax investments. If you decide to use this method, it’s especially important to review and ensure that the beneficiary dedication is accurate and up to date.
This method initiates the transfer of investment assets to a beneficiary at the moment the owner passes. Beneficiary designations are popular for accounts including 401(k)s, Roth IRAs and life insurance policies, among other things.
UPDATING YOUR ESTATE PLAN OVER TIME
Estate planning isn’t a one-and-done task. Over time, review your plans and adjust accordingly to reflect any major life changes. Although everyone’s financial situation will look different throughout the years, there are some common milestone occasions that call for a potential re-draft:
- Marital status: Did you create your estate plan prior to getting married or divorced? Be sure to revisit both your financial plans as well as whether your spouse can act as a decision maker if you’re incapacitated.
- Birth of a child: If you decide to have children, it may be in their best interest to create a trust in the event that both you and your spouse pass.
- Financial changes: If your finances significantly change, you’ll likely want to review your estate documents with an attorney as well as an advisor.
Depending on your unique situation, there could be several advantages to creating a trust or updating the beneficiaries on your retirement plans and other financial accounts. Although building out an estate plan can feel overwhelming, working with your financial advisor can help you find the best options for you and your family over time. If you have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team.
– Jones, J. M. (2021, November 20). How many Americans have a will? Gallup.com. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://news.gallup.com/poll/351500/how-many-americans-have-will.aspx
We cannot accept any orders and / or instructions regarding your account by email, voice mail, fax or any alternate method. BNY Mellon | Pershing is our clearing and custody provider. Olistico Wealth, LLC, a registered investment adviser. Pershing and Olistico Wealth, LLC are separate, unaffiliated companies, not responsible for each other’s services or policies. Pershing LLC (member FINRA, NYSE, SIPC) is a BNY Mellon company. Olistico Wealth is not an estate planner. In addition to consulting Olistico Wealth throughout the estate planning process, each individual should seek the advice of an estate planning attorney.