October 20, 2020
This week, (October 19 – October 25, 2020) is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. In the accounting world, it’s a week dedicated to helping the public understand what estate planning is and why it is incredibly important. The goal of estate planning is to create a strategy that will ensure the financial security of individuals throughout their lifetime and secure the intended transfer of their property and assets when they pass away.
Despite being a difficult topic, estate planning is essential to “maintain control of your assets, keep your personal life private, and have peace of mind for what happens to your children and your belongings when you pass,” says Preston L. Osbourn II, CPA and Manager. For many, the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed interest in estate planning for several reasons: to ensure that we make our end-of-life wishes clear, to put a plan in place to care for our children and other loved ones, and to designate who will be responsible for any assets that will be passed down.
Do you have an estate plan? Have you looked at your estate plan recently? If the response to these questions is anything other than ”yes,” then we encourage you to read this article.
Here are five key questions to ask yourself when you are considering creating an estate plan:
Have you had a major life event?
If you recently got married, had kids, bought your first home, went into business for yourself, inherited any assets, experienced a net worth change, etc., then you should create or reassess the plan for your estate. If you do not have a plan in place, or your plan is outdated, then the government will decide what happens to your assets. Your children, your business, and your valuables will all have a fate determined by someone who does not truly know your desires.
Do I have enough wealth to justify an estate plan?
Many people often think they have to be older and/or wealthy for an estate plan — that’s not the case. If you are over the age of 18 and have any assets at all (a vehicle, pets, jewelry, etc.) then you should at least have a Will as part of your estate plan. At all income levels, planning early in life ensures that not only will your financial goals be met, but your family will avoid unnecessary stress and uncertainty.
Do I need a plan for my business?
Without a business succession plan, the fate of your business may fall into the hands of an employee or partner. There are various estate planning opportunities available to you, depending on your long-term goals for your business. For example, those with an S-Corporation can gift stock to family members to begin the shift of ownership while also removing an appreciating asset from your estate.
I have a will, is that enough?
All adults should have a Will, but if the gross value of your estate is more than $166,250, it’s best to create a living trust as well. A living trust can help to protect your heirs from entering probate, a legal process that takes place after death where the government will work to establish the validity of a Will, determine the decedent’s heirs, determine the value of the decedent’s property, and appoint a personal representative to administer the decedent’s estate, a process that can be costly and emotional. A little advanced planning will help your heirs retain more of your estate in the long run.
Who should I talk to?
If you do not already have someone helping you prepare for the future, consider your options. At Grimbleby Coleman, we have a team of specialists that can help you navigate the often-difficult process of estate and trust planning.
To get started, contact a member of our Estate Planning Team, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can count on us to ensure you have every aspect of your financial needs covered, both now and in the future.