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When developing an estate plan, you will need to examine your personal circumstances and think about a number of different issues. Working with an experienced financial advisor to help you think through these issues will make creating an estate plan more efficient.
When completing an estate plan, it's important to think of your assets and liabilities as a snapshot picture for today. While your estate plan must consider your future, you need to have very good understanding of your financial situation today to properly plan. From there, you can build onto your plan as your particular situation changes.
When a life event occurs (marriage, divorce, death of a family member), you should review your overall estate plan and ensure that your will and beneficiary designations reflect your current situation. Ideally, you should review your estate plan and supporting documents every three to five years or when a significant life event occurs.
A will is a written formal document that determines how your estate shall be divided up on your death. It reflects your wishes with respect to the distribution of your estate and how your debts will be paid at death.
There are two types of power of attorney documents:
The appointment of an attorney for property provides authority to the attorney to manage and govern property and financial affairs when an individual becomes incapacitated.
This is sometimes referred to as a medical directive or a living will. The appointment of an attorney for personal care allows the attorney to make decisions about medical treatment and care on behalf of the incapacitated individual.
If you do not currently have a will and powers of attorney for property and personal care, now is the time to consider having these important documents put in place. They are vital to ensuring that your overall estate plan occurs in the manner that you desire.
Since minor children cannot own property (other than at the age of 16, a life insurance policy can be owned) and minor children cannot be in receipt of insurance proceeds, you will need to consider how to deal with the assets of your estate and benefit your minor children, grandchildren, or disabled children.
As well, children may include adopted children by formal means such as by court order or by other means. Using the word "children" or "issue" may include children born from genetic material, surrogacy, or assisted reproduction. You will need to consider who is included in your class of children which may also extend to the class of grandchildren.
It is important for you to understand and review with your advisor information relating to court orders and separation agreements to ensure that all support obligations have been considered. Support obligations may impact your estate plan and should be considered carefully when drafting a will, or making life insurance beneficiary designations.
If you or your spouse is a US citizen, you may have additional considerations with respect to your estate plan from a US estate tax planning perspective. You will need to speak wit ha lawyer or accountant who is familiar with these types of planning issues to ensure these issues are addressed.
Scrivens’ experienced Insurance and Estate Specialists work with business owners and professionals in structuring customized insurance programs. We pride ourselves in providing clients with valuable advice while helping them navigate through the estate and insurance planning maze; helping them save tax, maximize their wealth, and protect their interests.
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