Still only about 1/3 of us have a plan of OUR design in place…some of us have started but never followed through. What can this mean for our assets in the future:
I don’t need a plan…I don’t have an “estate.”
If you have a bank account, a condo/house, retirement plan, bitcoin, baseball card collection – you have an “estate.” It’s truly not about HOW MUCH, it’s about WHO you want it to go to and WHEN you want someone else to have it and under WHAT conditions. See below for why those conditions matter.
“…having a will in place can direct the probate court how you want your assets distributed, and having a trust might allow you to avoid probate altogether, keeping your affairs out of the public record.”
If you are one of that 33% congratulations and are you sure your plan still works in today’s environment?
Your best friend, sibling, or in-law might be named as your executor when you drafted your original documents, for example, but 30 years down the road, he or she might have a change of heart, be unreachable, or may even predecease you. If you don’t have contingent executors lined up, your whole estate plan might end up in the hands of your state court.
Who are the beneficiaries of your financial assets?
Did you name a former boyfriend/girlfriend, or a parent as the beneficiary on your employer’s insurance policy, or retirement account 10, 15, 20+ years ago? Have you checked it since?
Did you name your child directly as a beneficiary or devisee (in the will)?
“You might be tempted to name one of your minor children as the beneficiary of your estate, especially if you don’t anticipate passing until they reach the age of majority. This can be a mistake, for multiple reasons, as (a) minors can’t directly take possession of an inheritance, (b) they can when they turn 18…is this too soon? As unlikely as it may seem to you, if you do pass away while your children are still minors, your estate might pass into a guardianship, something that could be avoided if you instead named a custodian or trustee of your choosing to manage your children’s inheritance.” That guardian may not be someone you would have chosen to manage your child’s financial future.
I bet this has been on your “to-do” list for years…let’s cross this off that list for you and your family in the coming year!