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Estate Plans Versus Wealth Transfer Plans

November 29, 2019

When it comes to estate planning, do you have your ducks in a row? Even if you have all the proper documentation in place, you may be missing an important piece of the puzzle if you don’t have a wealth transfer plan.

Estate Plans

Estate planning documents are the best way to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes when you die. When you pass away without a will or trust in place, state law will determine who receives your assets. Unfortunately, this may not be in accordance with what you would have preferred. When you record your wishes in a legal document, however, you get to choose exactly who benefits from your estate.

Another reason to have an estate plan is that, without one, your family will be left with some or all of the following:

  • Expensive attorney and court costs
  • Wasted time
  • Stress and frustration
  • Distribution of assets with no regard for your wishes

Proper estate planning documents remedy all of the above, and you also get valuable flexibility in who benefits from your assets. You may choose to leave your wealth to your family, close friends or your favorite charity, but your assets could also be used to pay taxes, attorneys or other service providers. Having the proper documents drawn up prior to your end of life means your assets go where you want them to go in a fairly quick and low-cost transfer process. Additionally, when your wishes are clear and in writing, it can help keep or instill family harmony during a difficult time.

If you haven’t begun your estate plan yet, please reach out to an estate planning attorney to determine the documents you will need to meet your family’s needs. If you are working with your financial planner/advisor, you can consider asking her/him for a recommendation as many competent and experienced financial planners have already built a network of estate attorneys they trust and enjoy working with.

Wealth Transfer Plans

If you already have your estate documents in order, you may be thinking there’s nothing more to do. However, estate planning in the absence of wealth transfer planning can lead to a number of unfortunate outcomes:

  • Family Drama – Too many families are torn apart by discord and jealousy brought on by poor estate planning. There can be feelings of jealousy and animosity when a family member passes away and beneficiaries are revealed. Some heirs may feel short-changed or simply confused about the deceased’s decision-making, and feelings of hurt can quickly become anger. This type of discord is especially troublesome when a family business is involved.

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Managing your wealth is a very personal subject, one we should discuss in a more personal setting.