The future is uncertain, but you can ensure your family and loved ones are taken care of with estate planning. Estate planning is a critical component of financial planning for the future. It involves the careful consideration of your financial and personal goals to provide for the transfer of your assets now and after you pass away. Establishing a comprehensive estate plan will ensure that your wishes are carried out and provide financial security for your loved ones in the future.
Estate planning is essential for providing financial security and peace of mind for you and your loved ones. It enables you to have control over your assets, maintain privacy, and simplify the process of settling your estate after you pass away. With an estate plan, you can designate who will receive your assets, when they will receive them, and how they will be distributed. This allows you to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled and your loved ones are taken care of.
Important elements of an estate plan
A will is an important part of estate planning that enables you to decide who will receive an inheritance, who will process your assets, and who will take care of your minor children. Having a will determines who receives your assets and who will administer the distribution of your estate to your beneficiaries. Without a valid will in place, the state will decide who receives your assets, and this can be complicated as there are different rules per state.
Having beneficiary designations allows you to transfer assets without probate. You can designate primary and contingent beneficiaries for certain assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, which will allow those assets to bypass the probate process, ensuring they are transferred to the intended beneficiaries quickly and efficiently.
Creating a trust is another critical part of estate planning that can provide for the financial needs of your beneficiaries, reduce or eliminate estate taxes, and protect assets from creditors and lawsuits. You can create a trust to provide for the financial needs of your beneficiaries, such as a special needs trust for a disabled child, ensuring they are taken care of and their financial needs are met. Depending on the type of trust you create, you may be able to reduce or even eliminate estate taxes. A trust can also help protect assets from creditors and lawsuits, as well as ensure assets are managed according to your
A revocable living trust is a crucial part of estate planning that provides protection in the event of incapacity, avoids probate and ancillary probate, and provides asset protection for beneficiaries. If you are the grantor of a revocable trust, you will appoint a successor trustee who will manage your affairs in the event of your incapacity. Upon your death, the revocable trust typically becomes irrevocable. Assets owned by your revocable living trust avoid probate and ancillary probate, both of which are public court proceedings to settle your estate that may be costly and time consuming. You can also provide instructions on how your beneficiaries will receive assets and how they are able to access funds. Structuring the trust properly can protect assets from creditors and debtors.
A power of attorney is an essential part of estate planning that enables you to maintain your financial well-being, choose who handles your financial affairs, and protect your assets. If you are unable to act on your own behalf due to mental or physical incapacity, an agent may be called upon to make financial decisions to ensure your well-being and care, such as paying bills, selling assets to pay for medical expenses, and Medicaid planning. You can detail the scope and extent of what you wish your agent to do in the power of attorney. Having a power of attorney in place ensures you have chosen who you want to handle your financial affairs and make health care decisions for you, rather than leaving this to the courts. Your power of attorney should include all of the powers required to do effective asset protection planning.
A health care proxy is a necessary part of estate planning that gives your family the right to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. Also known as a “medical power of attorney,” a health care proxy authorizes an agent to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unconscious or otherwise unable to make such decisions yourself. Prior to the enactment of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in 1996, your family had limited rights to make health care decisions on your behalf. With the health care proxy, you can ensure your family has the right to make the best decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
A living will is a vital component of estate planning that allows you to communicate your wishes and educates your family and health care providers on how to proceed in an end-of-life situation. This can provide guidance to your family and health care providers on which medical decisions should be made for you in an irreversible coma or other dire situation. A living will can also help to avoid conflicts between family members and health care providers as to what to do in an end-of-life situation.
Important people to consider while planning your estate
When creating your estate plan, there are a few important people who you should consider. An executor is responsible for ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes and should have qualities such as honesty, organization, strong communication skills and financial responsibility.
A guardian will care for your minor children in the event that both parents pass away and should have qualities such as shared values, financial stability, longevity and character.
Your successor trustee will manage your revocable trust and distribute your assets after you pass away and should have qualities such as responsibility, diligence, financial knowledge and professionalism.
Beneficiaries are the people, causes or charities who are entitled to receive the benefits of your trust assets, and you should consider who you want to support after you pass away and what legacy you want to leave.
What should your next steps be?
Now that you know the importance of estate planning, the next steps are to incorporate the information into your financial plan.
- Choose the people to fill the different roles in your estate plan
- Review your beneficiary designations to ensure they still reflect your wishes
- Communicate to your loved ones what your estate plan is and make sure they understand your
- Make sure your loved ones are aware of where your important documents and passwords are
- Contact an estate planning attorney to execute on next steps, if necessary.
Having a comprehensive estate plan is essential for providing financial security and peace of mind for you and your loved ones. With the proper estate plan in place, you can ensure that your wishes are fulfilled, and your loved ones are taken care of.
As a firm providing wealth management services to clients, UBS Financial Services Inc. offers investment advisory services in its capacity as an SEC-registered investment adviser and brokerage services in its capacity as an SEC-registered broker-dealer. Investment advisory services and brokerage services are separate and distinct, differ in material ways and are governed by different laws and separate arrangements. It is important that you understand the ways in which we conduct business, and that you carefully read the agreements and disclosures that we provide to you about the products or services we offer. For more information, please review the client relationship summary provided at ubs.com/relationshipsummary.