Making decisions regarding complicated, sensitive topics like end-of-life care and what you want your legacy to me is no easy task. While there are tools out there that can make it easier for you, not all shortcuts help you get where you want to go.
As discussed below, plugging some information into a form may not adequately address your unique needs and wishes.
Preserving your memory
The planning you do or do not do has a tremendous impact on those you leave behind.
A templated will or other documents may be satisfactory in the legal aspect, but it may not be the same for your loved ones. A one-size-fits-all approach here can leave your family without explanations, context or instructions that can provide a great deal of comfort and guidance during a difficult time.
Your loved ones will already be coping with a loss and struggling with grief; making the legal process of estate administration easier for them can be a valuable legacy.
Specific tools like trusts can protect property and those receiving it. There are generally two types of trusts:
- Testamentary trusts, which go into effect after you pass away
- Inter-vivos trusts, which allow you to benefit from the trust during your lifetime
Within these categories, there are several specific options to consider, depending on who the beneficiaries are and what you put into the trust.
For example, if your loved one is disabled, a qualified disability trust can provide that person with funds without jeopardizing the government benefits they may be receiving.
On the other hand, if you plan to put income-generating property into a trust, other trusts can be more appropriate.
Delays, contests and other issues that can disrupt the estate administration process can be costly. And when the estate covers these costs, there is less money for beneficiaries. Thus, utilizing estate planning tools to reduce or prevent conflicts can be critical.
Further, some planning strategies can allow you to minimize tax obligations on the estate or your loved ones.
Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all process. You have unique wishes and resources that can require specific attention and protection. Tailoring your plan accordingly can help you accomplish your planning goals.