When you think about New Year’s Resolutions, is ‘update your estate‘ plan on the list?
Think about this…
When was the last time you reviewed your estate plans? Five years ago? Ten? Laws have changed significantly during this time, and new opportunities for passing along money to your heirs and to favorite charities have emerged. If you haven’t reviewed your plans for many years, you may be missing out.
Many attorneys and banks offer complimentary reviews of your Will and Trust. In addition to changes in estate and tax law, it’s important to look over your plans to make sure they still reflect your wishes. I remember speaking with a gentleman who had specific ideas about where his hard-earned assets should go, but when we looked at his documents, the beneficiary designations were completely different!
If you are considering leaving money to both heirs and nonprofit organizations, how you leave these funds can also make a difference. For example, did you know that leaving money from your IRA or other retirement plans to individuals is taxable, while leaving those same funds to charity is not? Gifting from an IRA is also one of the easiest ways to leave a legacy – simply contact your plan administrator to update your remainder beneficiaries. You may designate more than one beneficiary by simply setting percentages for each.
Another simple way to leave a legacy is to make a bequest through your Will or Trust. With the help of an advisor, you can include language that specifies gifts to loved ones and to charities.
Bequests can be made in several ways:
- You can gift a specific dollar amount or asset
- You can gift a percentage of your estate
- You can gift from the balance or residue of your estate
- You can make a beneficiary designation of certain assets
A well-crafted estate plan
will make sure that your wishes (and your legacy) will be implemented simply and strategically.
So dig out those old documents, dust them off, and give them a quick review.
And if you don’t have an estate plan, don’t put it off any longer! Whether you have $40 million or $40,000, it’s important to create a Will or Living Trust to ensure that your wishes are followed. Otherwise the state of California will decide for you. Estates over $150,000 without a written plan are required to go through the onerous, expensive probate process that can delay distribution to beneficiaries by months…or even years. Living Trusts are effective planning documents that also allow you to protect your assets during lifetime and designate who will oversee your health and well-being should you be incapacitated.
For more information on charitable estate planning please contact Linda Spuck – firstname.lastname@example.org or (619) 502-6099.
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