What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is the process of accumulating an estate to maximize the goals of the estate owner and to formally plan the transfer of all personal assets at death to chosen beneficiaries.
Why do I need an estate plan?
There are many things in life that can be ignored and the issue will eventually go away. However, your estate is not one of them. Your estate will be handled one way or another during your life and at your death. The question is how you will choose to handle it.
Every state has default procedures for handling an estate for those who do not take the time to plan on their own. This is called probate and without a simple will, it is the default for making all financial and custodial decisions for your surviving family.
The beneficiaries for your estate are probate, IRS, heirs, and charity. The default for your estate is in this order: probate, IRS, heirs, perhaps charity. If you take the time to outline your estate, the order could be how you would want it to be – you choose.
The parable of the talents in Matthew 25 is clear; to maximizethe use of what we are entrusted with here on this earth. This begins and ends with estate planning.
How do I get started with an Estate Plan?
There are certain things that you should get squared away no matter what your circumstances. A will is chief among them. A will tells the world exactly how you want your assets distributed when you die. It's also the best place to name guardians for your children. The other choices are less obvious without professional assistance but no matter your net worth, it's important to have a basic estate plan in place. Such a plan ensures that your family and financial goals are met after you die.
Taking inventory of your assets is a good place to start. Your assets include your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, and real estate or business interests. These are the things that can either be used to bless your family and church or can be dwindled away by probate and taxes.
Determine who you want to inherit your assets. Also important is who do you want handling your financial affairs if you're ever incapacitated and making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself?
Discussing your wishes and your plans together with your heirs may prevent disputes or confusion. Inheritance can be problematic if you are not clear about your intentions and take steps to avoid potential conflicts after you're gone.
Meet with your stewardship team to align the proper professional team to assist you with the final details for making your wishes legal and effective.
For more information on planning your future or to ask questions regarding your planning needs, please feel free to contact your Stewardship Team at 636-296-7729 ext 108.