It’s a hard thing to think about, what happens to our assets once we’re gone? But, it’s a topic which requires thought and a well-laid-out plan. Preserving your financial legacy, and providing for your loved ones demands more than simply naming a beneficiary and cutting a check.
For nearly 110 years, First International Bank & Trust has helped generations of families plan for all steps in life. Here are seven (often overlooked) insights into a successful plan for leaving your legacy:
- Do your research.
Estate, gift, and tax laws are continually evolving. A basic understanding of how those laws and any recent changes to them will impact your estate plan is imperative, as is a regular review of those laws and your plan with a professional.
- Decide who makes decisions when you can’t.
Consider the temperament and personalities of those you may entrust with Durable Powers of Attorney. Do they have the proper training for the responsibility of making decisions in your absence? Make sure you have a conversation with them about their duties and your expectations.
- Think about your family and plan for changes.
If you’re passing down assets to your children after your death, define the terms of their distributions, including at what age they will have access to the assets, and how often they may receive distributions. Consider their spouses or future spouses, and possible protections for the inheritance in the event of a divorce.
- Build out contingencies.
Lay-out who will care for any minor children in the event you and your spouse die, as well as provisions for their care. If you own a business, set up a succession plan, or if you have partners, discuss the possibilities now and set up agreements that can be funded by life insurance.
- Consider charitable giving.
If you want your legacy to extend beyond your family, determine how a charitable gift will be made upon your death. Decide which organization you’d like to support, how much you want to give, and consider listing them in your estate plan. Keep in mind that when you leave money to a charity, you’ll reduce the size of your estate, and the amount of assets potentially subject to estate tax.
- Leave nothing to chance.
Leave a paper trail of where your wishes can be found and back-up any supporting documents. Notify your heirs of the location of assets, accounts, advisors, and safe deposit boxes. Don’t forget to include passwords and user names to access your digital records after you’re gone.
- Prepare your beneficiaries.
Make clear your wishes to your family before your death, to avoid any surprises and possible conflict. Discuss any contingencies regarding behavior or achievement you’ve defined for your heirs in your estate plan.
Setting clear goals and defining steps for the transfer of your assets and legacy can seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our experienced team of Private Wealth advisors at First International Bank & Trust can help guide you through the process and put in place the most efficient and effective means to leave a legacy you can be proud of.
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