A proactive estate strategy can help place you – not state law or courts – in control of decisions about the care of your children, your assets and your health care.

Whose strategy do you want – yours or the state’s?

When you don't have an established estate strategy, the laws of your state become your “strategy” by default, which may not align with your desires. Every state has statutes dictating to whom assets will be passed after a person’s death, how to handle the decisions of an incapacitated person, and how the court will select a person to be in charge of these decisions. Even considering this, only slightly more than half of Americans have a will or trust in place, leaving control of their minor children and their assets to state law and the courts.1

It’s about control

Ultimately, developing an estate strategy is not merely about wealth. It’s about putting you in control of your legacy, ensuring the items most important to you are cared for as you intend. Additionally, having a strategy in place can help ensure your wishes are followed in an orderly and structured manner, reducing potential delays and conflicts that could arise among your beneficiaries.

Understanding trade-offs

Estate planning often will require you to prioritize your goals and make some trade-offs. For example, there is often a trade-off between strategy simplicity and level of control. Transfer on Death (TOD) agreements and beneficiary designations are often simpler to implement but offer little control over taxes and/or the beneficiaries’ use of funds. If you want more control over these items, trusts may provide more options. However, these options may bring additional costs and complexity, and your decisions could even become irrevocable, depending on the strategy. It’s important to discuss all of these considerations with an estate strategy attorney.

A team approach

Edward Jones does not provide estate planning or tax advice, so it’s important to have a team of professionals, including your:

  • Edward Jones financial advisor
  • Estate-planning attorney
  • CPA/tax professional

Each team member has a different area of expertise. For example, your Edward Jones financial advisor can help you identify and prioritize your overarching financial legacy goals, and consider how these goals align with other financial goals, such as living comfortably in retirement, ensuring your surviving spouse can maintain his or her lifestyle should you pass away or providing for your children’s/ grandchildren’s education. Your financial advisor can also review your beneficiary designations to ensure they align with your desires. Your attorney drafts legal documents for specific estate strategies based on these goals, while your tax professional determines the tax implications of these strategies.

Engaging a fee-based trust company

Strict federal and state laws govern the implementation of trusts, requiring trustees to perform certain duties for investments, administration, communication, accounting and confidentiality. Some individuals may want to delegate these legal responsibilities to an outside entity, such as a fee-based trust company, rather than maintaining them or passing them to a family member. Some services provided by these firms may include managing nonfinancial assets, withdrawal analysis and investment planning. Edward Jones Trust Company provides professional trust services, including serving as trustee or co-trustee, successor trustee or managing agent. The Edward Jones Trust Company can also help you determine your estate and legacy goals – personal and financial – and can work closely with your Edward Jones financial advisor and other estate and tax professionals to develop a comprehensive strategy for your situation and goals.

Take control today

Establishing your estate is simply not something that can wait. By taking the time to prepare now, you can help ensure some comfort for the future – putting you in control of your legacy goals.

Important information:

1 “What Do Americans Think About Estate Planning?” WealthCounsel, 2016 Estate Planning Awareness Survey.

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.

Trust and related services are provided by Edward Jones Trust Company, an affiliate of Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. (Edward Jones), a registered broker-dealer. Edward Jones Trust Company and Edward Jones are subsidiaries of the Jones Financial Companies, L.L.L.P. Edward Jones Trust Company may use Edward Jones or other affiliates to act as a broker-dealer for transactions or for other services. Payments of such services generally will be charged as an expense to the trust and will not reduce the amount of fees payable to Edward Jones Trust Company.