Need Help Implementing Your Estate Plan?

Estate planning is a complex process that is designed to achieve a rather simple primary goal: transferring your property to your heirs in an efficient manner with the least cost.  Most people know who they would name as beneficiaries (immediate family members, charities, etc.) but as to how to best to accomplish this, well, that’s another story.

The initial step in estate planning begins with an inventory of your assets.  Financial investments, real estate, cars, boats, collections, life insurance, business assets and other personal property should all be included.  The titling of the accounts and beneficiary designations should be considered as part of this review.  As part of our planning, we help you gather this information and point out any potential red flags that we see.

Next, outline your goals and any concerns that you have regarding your heirs and their situation. Do you have minor children?  Special needs beneficiaries?  Spendthrifts or individuals with substance abuse issues? Creditor issues? Or perhaps you are part of a blended family, with children from previous marriages? Each of these circumstances can be addressed with the appropriate estate planning so that protections are put in place.

Bluffton Estate Planning
Hilton Head Estate Planning

Depending on the size of your potential estate, some gifting strategies may be appropriate during your lifetime to avoid estate taxes.  Annual gifting and funding irrevocable trusts are just some of the many ways that you can reduce your estate, save on taxes, and still benefit your heirs.  When we work on an estate plan, we seek ways to take proactive steps now while you are still alive that can help in the future.

If you are charitably inclined, there are many ways to work this into an estate plan.  Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT) and Charitable Lead Trusts (CLT) can be used to either gift the income stream (as in the CLT) or the gift the remainder interest (as in the CRT) to a charity.  Many families choose to set up their own Private Family Foundations as the recipient of these trusts, which keeps the control of the donations within the family.

Finally, a good estate plan will also address your needs if you are incapacitated.  Naming a durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare will authorize persons that you trust to act for you if you are unable to do so.  A living will provides your physician with instructions regarding your wishes for life-sustaining treatment.  These critical documents can be invaluable if you are incapacitated.

Estate planning is only effective when the plan is implemented.  As CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ we are privileged to help our clients coordinate their plans with their estate attorney so that their final wishes are met.