Do I Need Estate Planning?The biggest mistake people make in the area of estate planning is to incorrectly assume they do not need to put planning in place. Unfortunately, this is one instance where ignorance is not bliss.
The following questionnaire is designed to help you understand whether or not you have a thorough and comprehensive estate plan. By answering the ten questions below, you will be able to determine your need to consult with an estate planning professional for assistance.
1.Do you have minor children? If so, have you designated a guardian in the event you have a child who is still a minor upon your death or incapacity? Have you constructed a plan that will ensure proper distribution of assets to a minor child?
2.Do you have a plan in place to ensure that in the event you are unable to make a financial, administrative or medical decision for yourself, either due to illness or accident, the person or people you trust will have the authority to make such decisions for you?
3.Have you put a plan in place to ensure that your assets will pass to your beneficiaries upon your death unburdened by the time, expense and hassle of the court's probate system?
4.Have you put a plan in place to ensure that the proper beneficiaries receive the proper assets upon your death? If so, does that plan address issues such as the incapacity or death of a beneficiary prior to distribution, distribution to a beneficiary who may not be ready to manage the assets he or she will be receiving (e.g., until he or she attains a certain age), and the manner in which your estate or beneficiaries will pay the estate tax bill (if any)?
5.If you total the value of all of your assets (including life insurance policies and retirement accounts), can you say with certainty that the current value is less than $5,000,000 and that the value, when added to any estimated future growth (including potential inheritances), will not exceed $5,000,000 in the future? If not, have you put a plan in place to address potential estate tax liability?
6.If you are married, do either you or your spouse have children born from a prior marriage? If so, have you put a plan in place that guarantees that each of those children from a prior marriage will receive the inheritance you intend for him or her?
7.Are you planning to leave assets to an individual who has special needs and is eligible for federal or state assistance? If so, have you put a plan in place to ensure that the distribution of those assets to that beneficiary will not cause him or her to be ineligible to receive government benefits?
8.Are you an owner of a small business? If so, have you put a plan in place to ensure the appropriate transition of ownership in the event you retire, become incapacitated, or die and to ensure that your family receives proper value for your interest in the business upon the occurrence of any of those events?
9.If you own a life insurance policy insuring your life, have you consulted with an estate planning professional in order to determine whether the proceeds will be included in your estate for estate tax purposes, and if so, whether or not it makes sense for you to take steps to ensure that the proceeds are not subject to estate tax?
10.If you want to make sizable gifts to children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or anyone else, have you consulted with an estate planning professional in order to accomplish your gifting goals while achieving the most tax effective transfer of such property to your beneficiary(ies)?
If you answer “no” to any of the questions above, we recommend that you consult an estate planning professional to ensure that you have a comprehensive estate plan that meets all of your needs. Please contact us if we can be of any assistance.