Estate Planning Optimized
We tend to equate estate planning with preparing for death and gifting assets to loved ones. In the face of both longer life spans and increased awareness (thanks COVID?) that anything can happen at any time, we are wise to take note: estate planning is not just about death, it’s about living too.
Care Plans, Medical Decisions, Guardianship…
Of course money matters—and so does making sure that if we experience a capacity decline, or have a sudden accident or illness, decisions and care for ourselves and minor children are set up in line with our hopes and expectations. That’s why, at it’s heart, careful estate planning is about so much more then assigning assets to beneficiaries. Parks & Jones offer this summary of the types of important decisions and plans a well done estate plan can set in motion:
Disposing of one’s assets after death is one of the primary goals of estate planning, but it is not the only goal. Contrary to popular belief, estate planning has applications both before and after death. In addition to specifying what will happen to your assets after death, an estate plan can also be used for the following purposes (and more):
- Establishing a medical advance directive
- Choosing a trusted individual as your personal representative to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated
- Protecting your assets from the estate tax (such as through an irrevocable trust)
- Protecting your assets from creditors
- Circumventing potential family disputes over the distribution of your assets
- Controlling the amount of money your beneficiaries receive
- Avoiding the potentially lengthy and costly probate process
- Ensuring that your minor children are cared for in the event of your death
- Proactively planning for long-term care
These estate planning basics will help you move into further action. Of course when you do start working with an estate planner, you will need a handle on your assets, be they few or many, and these tips may come in handy too. Importantly, when you make an estate plan, you will designate a loved one, friend or professional to serve as your fiduciary. This person is generally referred to as an executor, trustee, or personal representative, depending on your circumstances and region. If you have minor children, it is also important to designate a guardian.
Regardless of the specifics of your estate plan, the fiduciaries you appoint have a legal responsibility to carry out your affairs, in accordance with the intentions set forth in your estate planning documents, like a will and or trust, and the law. When representatives are designated, fiduciary bonds, alternatively referred to as estate bonds, can be required as a safeguard for the interests of the estate and beneficiaries. Learn more about estate bonds right here.
At Colonial, a leading national provider of all types of fiduciary bonds, the steps to obtaining estate bonds and all other types of fiduciary bonds are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even the law office.
Good To Know
You might be further along with your estate plan then you realize: if you have a bank account and a retirement plan, you probably already named beneficiaries on them, right? This is part of estate planning and it’s a good idea to organize a list of your various accounts and the named beneficiaries as you work toward a more complete estate plan. Keep in mind too, that once you lay out your plans and make a will and or trust, you also need to periodically review and update them, as attorneys remind us:
Life can change quickly. Changes such as marriages and births can result in estate plans becoming outdated and failing to take into account the presence (or absence) of certain heirs, including spouses and children….The best way to avoid accidentally omitting a spouse or a child is to update your will after every major life event, including marriages, births, and deaths….
Estate Law Practice?
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Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of a wide range of bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.