There are many questions that often arise in families when it comes time to pass assets from one generation to the next. However, a good estate plan can bring up the right questions followed by the right answers, according to the East Idaho Business Journal in “Estate plans can help you answer questions about the future.”
Let’s look at some of these questions:
What will happen to my children when I die? You hope that you’ll live a long and happy life and that you’ll get to see your children grow up and have families of their own. However, what if you don’t? A will is used to name a guardian to take care of your children if their parents are not alive. Some people also use their wills to name a “conservator.” That’s the person who is responsible for the assets that any minor children might inherit.
Will my family fight over their inheritance? Without an estate plan, that’s a distinct possibility. Without a trust, the entire estate goes through probate, which is a public process. Relatives and creditors can both gain access to your records and could challenge your will. Many people use and “fund” revocable living trusts to place assets outside of the will and to avoid the probate process entirely.
Who will take care of my finances if I’m too sick? Estate planning includes documents like a durable power of attorney, which allows a person you name (before becoming incapacitated) to take charge of your financial affairs. Speak with your estate planning attorney about also having a medical power of attorney. This lets someone else handle health care decisions on your behalf.
Should I be generous to charities or leave all my assets to my family? That’s a very personal question. Unless you have significant wealth, chances are you will leave most of your assets to family members. However, giving to charity could be a part of your legacy, whether you are giving a large or small amount. It may give your children a valuable lesson about what should happen to a lifetime of work and saving.
One way of giving is to establish a charitable lead trust. This provides financial support to a charity (or charities) of choice for a period, with the remaining assets eventually going to family members. There is also the charitable remainder trust, which provides a steady stream of income for family members for a certain term of the trust. The remaining assets are then transferred to one or more charitable organizations.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances.
Reference: East Idaho Business Journal (June 25, 2019) “Estate plans can help you answer questions about the future.”