Kevin Christopher, JD, Wealth Advisor
Wealth is more than just money. It’s the things we accumulate throughout our lives – our home, cars and possessions. And when we pass away, it’s up to us to decide what happens to all this wealth. That’s where estate planning comes in; it’s a process that helps ensure your wealth is passed on to the people and organizations you choose in the way you want it done.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is creating a plan that ensures your estate will be handled according to your wishes after you die. The goal of estate planning is to maximize the value of your estate while minimizing the taxes and expenses associated with transferring it.
Estate planning should be a critical part of everyone’s financial planning. Were you to die unexpectedly, you would leave your loved ones the task of figuring out what to do with all your possessions – or you could become incapacitated and unable to make decisions about your own care. An estate plan can help avoid all of this by ensuring your wishes are known and carried out.
What Goes into Wealth Estate Planning?
There are several different components to an effective estate plan:
- A will: A will is a legal document that establishes your wishes for how your estate should be handled after you die. It can also appoint a guardian for any minor children you may have.
- A living trust: A living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your property to another person or organization while you are still alive. This can help avoid probate.
- A power of attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself. In estate planning, this can be used to appoint someone you trust to manage your affairs if you become incapacitated.
- A health care directive: A health care directive is a legal document that sets out your wishes for medical treatment if you are unable to make decisions for yourself, ensuring you receive the kind of care you want, even if you are not able to communicate your wishes.
What’s the Process of Estate Planning?
The process of estate planning can be divided into three main steps:
1. Determine what you own.
The first step in estate planning is to inventory everything you own. This includes your house, car, bank accounts, and any other property you may have. You will also need to determine the value of each asset.
2. Determine who you want to inherit your property.
The next step is to decide who you want to inherit your property. This can include family members, friends, or charities.
3. Create the legal documents.
Create the legal documents that will make your wishes known. This includes a will, a living trust, a power of attorney, and a health care directive.
What Are the Benefits of Estate Planning?
There are several benefits to estate planning, including:
- Ensuring your wishes are carried out: One of the most important benefits of estate planning is that it ensures your wishes will be carried out. This is especially important if you have young children, as it can appoint a guardian for them in the event of your death.
- Avoiding probate: Probate is a legal process that can be time-consuming and expensive. By creating a living trust, you can avoid probate and make sure your loved ones inherit your property quickly and without hassle.
- Minimizing taxes and expenses: Estate planning and wealth management can also help minimize the taxes and expenses associated with transferring your property after you die. This can ensure that more of your property goes to your loved ones rather than the government.
- Protecting your assets: Estate planning can also help protect your assets from creditors and lawsuits. This can be especially important if you have a lot of valuable assets that you want to pass on to your loved ones.
Making a will, setting up a trust, appointing a power of attorney, and creating a health care directive are all important steps in ensuring that your estate is handled according to your wishes.
When Should You Start Estate Planning?
There is no specific age at which you should start estate planning, but it’s generally a good idea to start sooner rather than later. This is because you never know when something might happen to prevent you from being able to make decisions about your property.
- If you have young children, it’s especially important to start estate planning early. This is because it will appoint a guardian for your children in the event of your death. You may also want to create a trust to manage your children’s property until they are adults.
- If you are elderly or ill, it’s also a good idea to start estate planning so that you can make sure your wishes are known and carried out. This can help avoid misunderstandings or disputes among your loved ones after you die.
No matter your age, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your family about your wishes for your property after you die. This can help ensure that your loved ones are prepared to handle your estate.
How Is Estate Planning for Business Owners Different?
As a business owner or entrepreneur, you likely have a lot of valuable assets that you want to pass on to your loved ones. But estate planning can be especially important for you, as it can help protect your business and ensure its continued success after you die.
Consider several things when estate planning for a business owner or entrepreneur.
- Determine who will take over your business. If you have a partner, you may want to designate them as the new owner. If you don’t have a partner, you’ll need to decide whether to sell the business or appoint someone to run it.
- Create a buy-sell agreement. This agreement will outline what will happen to your business in the event of your death. It can help ensure that your business is sold at a fair price and that your loved ones are taken care of financially.
- Create a succession plan. This plan will detail how your business will be run after you die. It can help ensure that your business continues to be successful and that your loved ones are taken care of financially.
Estate planning can be a complex process, but it’s important to do to protect your business and ensure its continued success after you die.
Where Can I Get Help with Estate Planning?
While you can do some estate planning on your own, it’s always best to seek professional help. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you create an effective plan that meets your unique needs. They can also help ensure that your documents are properly executed and filed.
If you’re looking for professional help with your estate planning, Nesso Wealth in Connecticut can provide you with the assistance you need. We have years of experience helping business owners, entrepreneurs, and families create comprehensive estate plans that protect their businesses and loved ones.
Contact us today to learn more about our investment management and estate planning services to help you be a step closer to leaving everything for your loved ones when you’re no longer here with them.
Want to have a no-obligation conversation about estate planning? Contact us.
For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.