Hopefully, you’re planning to give all of your loved ones plenty of affection this Valentine's Day. But what if you weren’t around? To make sure everyone is fully protected when you’re gone, you need an estate plan. This year, show everyone you care by making sure your plan is fully updated. Check out these tips to do this task properly.
1. Ensure your children will be taken care of
This part of your estate plan will change as your children get older. When they are young, you may need to take out life insurance and nominate a guardian for them. As they get older, you may want to set up a trust that distributes assets slowly to them. At some point, you may decide that your kids are mature enough so that you don't need these provisions, even if you still want to make sure your assets go to them.
2. Make sure your estate plan reflects your current family
Ideally, you should update your estate plan any time you have a major family event such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death. However, often when these disruptive events happen, an already-completed estate plan is the last thing on your mind. This February, look over your estate plan and make sure that it includes – or leaves out – certain people.
Keep in mind that in many cases, a will can define beneficiaries by relationship rather than a specific person’s name. For instance, you may have a will that stipulates all of your assets go to your children. It may automatically distribute assets to your grandchildren if a child passes away before you do.
However, if you or your children have step-children, they are not automatically included in a will drafted this way. Although you may feel like they are family and want them to have the same rights as everyone else, you should structure your will to reflect this fact. Be aware of nuances like this when updating your estate plan.
3. Give some love to charity
If you want some of your estate to go to charity, you need to ensure that the charities listed in your estate plan remain active. You may want to designate backups to be on the safe side. Consult with an estate planning professional to ensure that you maximize your contributions in a way that preserves your wealth and reduces your tax burden as much as possible.
4. Update your tax planning strategy
Tax laws change all the time, and they heavily influence estate planning. When you check in with your estate plan, make sure that it works in the current tax environment. You don't want to pay more tax than you have to. At the same time, however, you don't want to pay for tax-shielding vehicles if your estate is below the threshold that necessitates those strategies.
5. Update the people involved in your estate plan
In addition to the beneficiaries of your estate, your estate plan may also include several other roles for important people in your life. You may have a medical and financial power-of-attorney, a trustee, a substitute trustee, or even people named in your business succession plan. Review the roles you have designated for all of these people and make updates as needed.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
For information about specific insurance needs or situations, contact your insurance agent. This article is intended to assist in educating you about insurance generally and not to provide personal service. They may not take into account your personal characteristics such as budget, assets, risk tolerance, family situation or activities which may affect the type of insurance that would be right for you. In addition, state insurance laws and insurance underwriting rules may affect available coverage and its costs. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing company. If you need more information or would like personal advice you should consult an insurance professional. You may also visit your state’s insurance department for more information.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax or legal advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific situation with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial.
This article was prepared by WriterAccess.
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