Estate planning can be intimidating if you don’t have enough
information at hand to make crucial decisions about your future and the future
of your loved ones. Consider these nine practical tips for successful estate
Keep your important documents like your will or
trust up-to-date. Keep your legal residence address, marriage status, children,
guardian list, etc. updated.
Keep track of beneficiaries for all of your
IRAs, qualified plans and insurance policies. If you don't, they may be going
to someone you no longer wish to receive them.
Maximize the liquidity of your estate. Liquidity
is defined as the ability to quickly turn assets into cash. Without sufficient
cash to pay taxes, funeral, and other expenses, your family may have to sell
illiquid assets - such as a family business or other property - at an
Maintain an appropriate mix of investment risk.
Over time, more risky investments like stocks and mutual funds should be moved
into safe and stable investments such as annuities.
Name a dependable executor and/or trustee.
Executors are called upon to collect assets, pay obligations, and distribute
your assets. Your trustee must enforce all the provisions of any trusts you
created. Choose people who have the knowledge, integrity and stamina in the
face of pressure from family members to fulfill these obligations.
If you have minor children, consider naming one
guardian for your minor children and a separate guardian for the property
you've left to support them. The best guardian for your children may not be the
most effective money manager you know.
Estate planning for your spouse. If your net
worth is high enough, your estate may be subject to taxes. A simple estate plan
can potentially save your loved ones hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate
Leaving the right assets to the right people.
Make sure proper financial management systems are in place for people such as special
needs children, teenagers, or other dependents.
Plan, plan, plan. While estate planning is
important for everyone, it is most important for business owners, who must plan
for the succession and/or buyout of their business.
This is just
an overview of estate planning issues that should be addressed by you and your
attorney. Remember, every situation is different and your estate plan is not
going to look exactly like your neighbor’s estate plan. It is best to contact a
knowledgeable estate planning attorney to assist you in protecting everyone you
love and everything you have.