Estate planning involves planning around family relationships. Estate planning is not just for the very old or very wealthy. If you are concerned about your loved ones, you need to take action now to lessen the financial and emotional burden your incapacity or death will bring.
Estate planning is more than just planning to minimize estate1 and gift taxes2; it includes your goals now and your legacy in the future.
Where Do I Start?
Some important steps in planning your estate are: 1) determining who should make decisions for you in the event of your incapacity; and 2) what you want to happen to your loved ones and your assets after you have passed away.
Simple Questions to Ask Yourself
- Who should make health care decisions for me? Family? Friends?
- Who should manage my assets and take care of me in the event of my incapacity? Family? Friends? Bank or corporate trustee?
- Who should carry out my estate plan after my death? Family or friends? Bank or corporate trustee? Probate court?
- Who should take care of my children if they are minors at my death? Parents? Siblings? Friends?
- Who should receive my assets at my death? Family? Friends? Charity?
- When should my assets be distributed at my death? Immediately after my death? At some specified time after my death? Upon beneficiaries reaching certain ages?
- How should my assets be distributed? Should my spouse have a right to the income before my assets pass to others? Will my children need a corporate trustee to handle their inheritance? Should my beneficiaries attain certain goals I specify before they receive my assets?
To learn more about estate planning and what is involved, visit the Estate Planning Concepts section.