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    Estate and Legacy Planning

    Similar to insurance planning, having an estate plan in place can save your family a lot of stress if you’re disabled or pass away. Too often, families don’t plan out their legacy, and then relatives fight over inheritances after you pass away. A good estate plan empowers you to make those decisions now so your family doesn’t have to do it after you’re gone. A good legacy plan ensures that lessons you have learned are shared and remembered by others.

    Differences between legacy planning and estate planning

    Leaving a legacy is different than completing an estate plan.  When you consider legacy planning you think about intangible items you’ll pass along to future generations.  Estate planning considers how tangible items like your house or money are passed along to family members or charities.

    What is estate planning?

    There are five things that happen as you build your estate plan.  

    • You provide a plan for your assets to be given to family members or others
    • Your assets are protected from creditors or from a plan you don’t want  
    • You provide for your loved ones with a smooth transfer of assets
    • You decide who will care for you and your finances when you can’t 
    • You set it in writing so your plan is acted upon

    Areas of Estate Planning

    Wills

    A will states your directions for who you want to inherit your assets and who you want to name as a guardian for minor children.  You may be surprised to learn that most states have a plan for you if you don’t create one yourself.  If you don’t create your own will this is called “intestate.”  A will can also account for assets you may have forgotten about.  In this case your will would direct those assets too.  

    Trusts

    A trust is another beneficial piece of your estate plan.  Trusts can provide for privacy of your finances and also allows for a more detailed estate plan.  You may desire to give assets to loved ones as they reach a certain age.  A trust can hold your assets to allow for these wishes in the future.

    Taxes

    Once your estate reaches $3 Million to $4 Million in total value you need to consider estate taxes you may owe.  With a good estate plan you may avoid paying taxes depending on the type of assets you own and the people or organizations you choose to pass assets to.  But this won’t happen simply by chance.  You need a detailed plan to achieve this.

    Charitable Giving

    Individuals and parents may choose organizations they are a part of to give assets to, in addition to their family.  Your estate plan is not limited to only your family but you can also make these organizations a part as well.  

    Estate Planners: What do they do?

    Similar to insurance, having an estate plan in place can save your family a lot of stress if you’re disabled or pass away.  Estate planning attorneys draft the documents needed to ensure your plan can be carried out as you wish.  While attorneys draft the documents we work with you to make sure what your documents say matches what you say you wish.  For this reason we help to coordinate with your attorney to complete these documents and provide copies when they are completed.

    What is a comprehensive estate plan?

    A comprehensive estate plan will provide you with documents that support the plan you choose to have in place.  These documents will provide you with what you need in case you are still alive but unable to act or choose what you want.  They will also provide you with documents to distribute your assets to others if you are no longer alive.  

    Beyond simply having the documents drafted a good plan will detail who is to act and also provide the individuals responsible with the knowledge to act when needed.  A well thought plan will consider state and federal estate taxes as well as guidance for who can help them manage your estate.  While we cannot serve as your trustee or executor we can help your appointed individuals to carry out your estate plan.  

    How much do estate planning services cost?

    You’ve likely heard the phrase, “You get what you pay for.”  This holds true for estate planning documents.  You can do it yourself with online services that may not be state specific.  Or you can work with an estate planning attorney to ensure your documents are up to date and carefully worded for your wishes.  

    We caution people who are planning to go it alone by doing documents yourself.  On the other side of the spectrum though, you don’t need to pay more than necessary.  For the documents you need to have in place a good estimate can be anywhere from $500 to $3,500 depending on whether you are single or married.  And some employers provide benefits where you have access to these services at even more discounted rates.

    Who needs an estate planner?

    Everyone who has assets to pass on to others would benefit from working with an estate planning professional.  Every family and their financial situation is unique so that requires being aware of what you need.  

    What is legacy planning?

    Legacy planning is the consideration of knowledge, lessons, or values you wish to carry on into future generations.  Some of the best legacies left often share stories of importance and significance to younger generations so they understand more about their loved one.  While the legacy can be tied to financial things they aren’t always.  

    Areas of Legacy Planning

    Legacy planning is thoughtful to include a variety of pieces:  

    • You may involve charitable organizations through donor-advised funds or direct gifts from qualified accounts while you are alive.  
    • You may share stories, videos, or books you’ve prepared to accompany a financial gift you’re leaving to heirs.
    • You may choose to spend time and part of someone’s inheritance taking a trip or doing something together rather than simply giving them money.

    Too often, families don’t plan out their legacy, and then relatives fight over inheritances after you pass away. A good estate plan empowers you to make those decisions now so your family doesn’t have to do it after you’re gone.

    Ready to take the next step?

    Schedule a quick call with our financial advisors.