There’s a calm comfort that comes with estate planning. A sense that your ducks are in a row and that your family will be taken care of after you pass away (hopefully at a ripe old age, peacefully in your sleep surrounded by those you love who love you right back). Sadly, it doesn’t always happen that way. Forgotten details can create confusion and havoc for your family.
Even those who think they’ve got their estate plans buttoned up can and should review – then update – those documents at least once a year. After all, you probably don’t want your family members to end up in a drawn-out legal battle over grandma’s grand piano. Paired with regular reviews, the following steps can help prevent your estate from descending into chaos.
And keep your beneficiaries updated. Everyone over 18 needs an estate plan that includes a comprehensive will (at the very least) and that properly documents their wishes. Remember, life is unpredictable.
Trust a qualified estate planning professional to help you write your will and other estate planning documents. To find one, ask for a referral from your financial advisor or visit the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys or the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys. Most of us have limited expertise when it comes to complicated tax and estate planning, and even though dedicated software can help you create the necessary documents, it’s still a good idea to have an estate planning attorney review what you have.
Remember that every life event – births, adoptions, disability, deaths, marriages, divorces, even moving – should trigger a review and update of your estate documents. If any of these events occur in the life of a beloved beneficiary, take note! That requires another look, too.
Make sure your will accurately reflects your existing family structure. And, don’t forget to talk to professionals about estate planning techniques that take advantage of all the tax exemptions currently available. Doing so could ease the transfer of assets and keep more of your hard-earned wealth within the family, not in Uncle Sam’s coffers.
Raymond James does not offer legal services. Please consult the appropriate professional