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All of us hope to leave something behind for our loved ones when we pass away, but the probate process can be complex. Working alongside your legal and tax advisors, we will put into place the necessary strategies to help ensure that your assets transfer according to your wishes in the most efficient manner possible.* The questions below will help you consider whether your estate is in order:
A will enables you to specify who you want to inherit your property and other assets. A will also enables you to name a guardian for your minor children.
Certain financial documents can outline your financial wishes. If you become unable to make decisions for yourself, these financial documents can be structured to empower a person to make decisions on your behalf. These documents may include joint ownership, durable power of attorney, and living trusts. Healthcare documents spell out your wishes for health care if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. They also authorize a person to make decisions on your behalf if that should prove necessary. These documents may include a living will, a power of attorney agreement, and a durable power of attorney agreement for healthcare.
In some cases, naming a beneficiary for bank accounts and retirement plans makes these accounts “payable on death” to your beneficiaries. In other cases, you will need to fill out a “Payable on Death” form.
When was the last time you assessed your life insurance coverage? Have you compared the life insurance benefit with your financial obligations? Keep in mind that several factors will affect the cost and availability of life insurance, including age, health and the type and amount of insurance purchased. Life insurance policies have expenses, including mortality and other charges. If a policy is surrendered prematurely, the policyholder also may pay surrender charges and have income tax implications. You should consider determining whether you are insurable before implementing a strategy involving life insurance. Any guarantees associated with a policy are dependent on the ability of the issuing insurance company to continue making claim payments.
If you and your spouse have more than $24.12 million in assets (for 2022), you may want to consider taking steps to manage federal estate taxes, which will be due at the second spouse’s death.
Do you have a succession plan? If you own a business with others, you may also want to consider a buyout agreement.
*Estate Planning services are provided working in conjunction with your Estate Planning Attorney, Tax Attorney and/or CPA. Consult them for specific advice on legal and tax matters.