Where there is a Will, there is not always an estate plan. A Will is a good start, but you need more.
First, a Will allows you to do the following:
- Direct who inherits your property after your death
- Nominate an executor (personal representative) to administer your estate
- Nominate legal guardians for your minor children
Second, a Will does not complete your estate planning.
For example, a Will is limited to what happens upon your death. What if you get very sick or become incapacitated? A Will is not going to allow your family or other trusted people to help you manage your finances, legal matters or your health care.
At the very least, a proper estate plan should also include the following:
1. A way for someone you trust to manage your finances and legal affairs if you can’t during your lifetime.
With a Durable Power of Attorney, you can name someone that you know and trust to manage your legal and financial affairs. Click here to watch a short video about a Durable Power of Attorney.
2. A way for someone you trust to manage your health care if you become sick or incapacitated.
With health care directives, you can name someone that you know and trust to manage your health care. For example, if you become so sick or incapacitated that you can’t communicate your wishes, your Health Care Surrogate would step in to make decisions for you.
Click here to watch a short video about Health Care Directives.
3. A review of your assets.
What types of assets, property or accounts do you own?
Do you understand how your assets are titled? Incorrect titling or improper ownership of assets causes huge headaches for families and estates. These are some examples of improper ownership that we have seen:
- Not listing your spouse as a joint owner with rights of survivorship;
- Owning business assets personally;
- Not funding your trust properly;
- Owning assets jointly with a beneficiary.
What does improper ownership mean? It is improper if the result goes against your estate planning goals or leaves you or your family with unintended consequences.
4. A review of your estate’s liquidity.
Will your estate have costs, like income taxes and estate taxes? How will your heirs pay those costs? Factor in if your heirs will need cash or income after you pass away. Consider reviewing your life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
5. A review of your beneficiary designations.
Beneficiary designations transfer retirement accounts and life insurance policies, overruling what a Will or a Trust says. First, it is important to make sure you coordinate your designations with your estate planning wishes. Second, get the right legal advice if you want your Will or Trust to interact with your retirement accounts and life insurance policies. Finally, make sure to update your beneficiary designations to keep up with as circumstances in your life or the law change.
6. A review of your digital assets.
We live in a digital world! If something happened to you, how would your loved ones access your digital assets? Digital assets range from, financial accounts, online photo storage, social media, to even cryptocurrency.
This is an example of an executive who didn’t plan for his cryptocurrency assets. It caused huge problems for his family and his company. He was the only person who had access to $180 million in cryptocurrency.
As you can see, a Will alone is not an estate plan. You need more to protect yourself and your family.
Call (813) 902-3189 to schedule your free 15 minute phone consultation. Or click here to schedule it now.