There is a common misconception that only wealthy individuals need to worry about estate planning. In reality, nearly everyone can benefit from having an estate plan.
By planning for tomorrow today, you can retain more of your assets, protect your estate and leave a lasting legacy for your family.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for everyone to have an estate plan in place and the importance of taking action now. In an uncertain world, estate planning is more critical and urgent than ever.
8 steps for smart estate planning
If you have any assets at all, you need an estate plan to ensure these assets are managed in line with your wishes in the event that you’re unable to do so yourself – whether that’s during your lifetime or following your death.
Here are 8 steps you can put in place now to help you ensure you have an effective estate plan in place:
- Speak with the experts.
You don’t have to go it alone, and it’s better if you don’t. Instead, get your financial advisor, lawyer and accountant involved to make a plan that is optimized from both legal and tax perspectives.
Many of these professionals are currently available to assist you remotely during COVID times with telephone and online virtual meetings. Ask your advisor for help to get all the experts around the same table to develop a cohesive, coordinated plan.
- Understand your cashflow needs.
Get a clear snapshot of your financial situation by documenting all your assets and liabilities.
A detailed overview is an important starting point for understanding your cashflow requirements and ensuring that your needs are being comprehensively addressed.
- Get life insurance.
Life insurance is a powerful and versatile financial tool. It can protect your family, minimize taxes and serve as an efficient investment vehicle, playing a crucial role in your overall estate plan.
The pandemic has reinforced the importance of life insurance. Now is a good time to review your existing policies and ensure they are meeting your needs.
- Have a will and power of attorney.
Your power of attorney is about your wishes and decision-making while you are alive. Your will addresses what you want to happen after you die.
Both are important to ensure you have a voice in your care, your estate and your legacy.
- Seek tax efficiencies.
When you die, the federal government regards all your capital assets as disposed of for tax purposes. This can lead to your estate being hit with a considerable tax bill upon your death.
With an estate plan in place, you can transfer ownership of your assets and minimize the taxes incurred following your death.
- Get organized.
Make a list of your key personal information, advisors, important documents (and their locations), accounts, other financial assets and computer passwords, and then place this list in a safe place.
Be sure to inform the person to whom you assign power of attorney where to find this list.
- Review and update your plan.
Your life is not static, so it’s important to regularly review and update your estate plan.
Any time there is a major event in your life or within your family – for example, a birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc. – it’s good practice to go through your estate plan and update it as needed.
- Inform your family.
Openness and communication are an important part of estate planning. Letting your family know what you’re planning can prevent unpleasant surprises and minimize future disputes.
Ensure that your executor and power of attorney assignee know where to find all your important documents.
Navigating uncertainty with empathy and expertise
Uncertainty is a fact of life, but planning can help to mitigate risks and unknowns. In today’s uncertain world, estate planning is more important than ever to ensure that your wishes will guide the future handling of your wealth and your legacy.
To review your existing estate plan or put in place a new one, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 647.349.7070.
A well planned and executed estate plan starts with a conversation.