Proactive Estate Planning Strategies

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Estate planning is a financial process that can protect you and your family. It is a very important component of your overall financial planning. If you don’t have an up-to-date estate plan and you happen to get hurt or sick and cannot manage your financial affairs, the courts will have to appoint someone to manage them for you. Estate planning is important for everyone, regardless of your net worth.

Here are some estate planning moves to consider:

  • NAME YOUR BENEFICIARIES

It’s important to periodically review your beneficiary designations, especially if you’ve experienced a major life event (such as marriage, divorce, or the birth or adoption of a child

  • UPDATE PROPERTY OWNERSHIP

If you’re married and own property that names you and your spouse named as joint tenants with right of survivorship (JTWROS), the surviving spouse will automatically take over sole ownership of the property when the other spouse dies. The same is true if you own property with a nonspouse as JTWROS.

  • DRAFT OR UPDATE YOUR WILL

If you die intestate (without a will), the laws of your state will determine the fate of your minor children and assets. You need a written will to make your wishes known.

  •  CREATE OR UPDATE A LIVING TRUST

For those with significant assets, a living trust can be an effective tool to help avoid probate. You establish the living trust and transfer legal ownership of assets for which you wish to avoid probate, such as your main home and your vacation property, etc.

  • MAKE AN IRREVOCABLE LIFE INSURANCE TRUST

Life insurance death benefits are generally free from federal income tax. However, the death benefit from any policy on your own life is included in your estate for federal estate tax purposes if you have incidents of ownership in the policy. Estate Planning is an ongoing process. Major life events could require changes in your estate plan. Additionally, the federal estate and gift tax rules, along with state estate and gift tax rules, have proven to be unpredictable. For these reasons, we encourage you to review your estate plan.