Many people associate estate planning as something they need to do later in life, after they retire or the kids are grown. But regardless of your age, we believe putting an estate strategy in place is an important step to help make sure your family, financial and medical affairs are taken care of if something were to happen to you.
And your financial advisor can help by walking you through the process, helping prioritize your goals and working to coordinate your team of tax and legal professionals.
Considerations to make while planning your estate
No matter what age you are, here are a few things you should think about when beginning to plan your estate.
- Create a will - A will can spell out who you'd like to name as guardians of your children if something were to happen to you.
- Look into your life insurance options - Do you have a strategy in place to cover your family's living expenses if something were to happen to you? If not, talk to your financial advisor. There are many (affordable) options that can address different family situations.
- Discuss your wishes for future medical care - It may be a difficult topic to discuss, but outlining your wishes for future care can make a big difference later for you and your loved ones. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to name someone to make medical decisions for you, while a Health Care (or Advanced) Directive can allow you to specifically detail what procedures or care you'd like healthcare professionals to provide – or not.
- Review your beneficiary designations - When's the last time you took a look at the beneficiaries of your retirement plans (like your 401(k) or IRA) or your life insurance policies? Have you considered Transfer on Death (TOD) designations on your investment accounts? It may be a good time to review them, especially if you've had a life change (like a marriage or divorce) or if your children are now adults, as you may want to add them as primary or contingent beneficiaries.
- Consider a living trust - For individuals with potentially larger estates, relying strictly on strategies such as TODs or beneficiary designations may be insufficient. You've worked hard to be able to live the life you want, which includes controlling your wealth. A revocable living trust can help you direct how you'd like your assets used or distributed during your lifetime as well as after you pass away. This control may be important depending on your personal and family situation.
Tax control may also become more important. In many states, living trusts are also used as a way to bypass probate, which can save your family the time and expense of these public court proceedings.
- Leave a legacy - What's important to you? When it comes to your legacy, you have lots of options, including giving to charities you believe in. You may not realize there are many ways to give to charities during your lifetime that can have positive tax benefits for you now, such as outright gifting, Charitable Lead/Remainder Trusts, donor-advised funds and foundations.
How we can help
These decisions can be complex, which is why we believe a team approach is best. Your financial advisor can work with you and your team of legal and tax professionals to put a strategy in place that meets the needs of you and your family, whatever those needs may be.
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.