Do I need Estate Planning? We get this question a lot and the answer is……. Maybe!
Ok, I know, that isn’t much of an answer, but let’s dig a little deeper. Here is a three step test to see if you need Estate Planning!
FIRST, what type of assets do you own? Do you have multiple assets comprised of retirement accounts, investment accounts, real estate, bank accounts, business interests, etc? Or, do you have a basic list of accounts, such as one IRA and a bank account? This information will be a determining factor as to your need for estate planning and the complexity of it.
SECOND, you need to look at your family dynamic. If you are on your first marriage, with children that are natural to you and your spouse, and neither have children from another relationship, that is much different than a “Brady Bunch” family where there are children from previous marriages and various family dynamics. Do you have children with special needs? Do you have grandchildren you want to provide for? Do you wish to leave money to a church or charity? These are critical components to estate planning.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, you need to have a clear vision for what you want to happen after you are gone. Maybe you want a specific person to get everything, such as your spouse or partner? Conversely you could divide your assets in a multitude of ways with specific monies going to specific people. Another possibility is preventing an heir from having full access to the money they inherent and force them to use it over their lifetime. As a result, there are many variables to consider rather than assuming a basic Will could provide for all solutions.
WILL OR ESTATE PLAN?
The simple answer is that unless you have a very short list of assets and don’t have any special wishes for your funds, a basic Will and Power of Attorney may suffice. If any of the more complex issues above pertain to you, then you may benefit from an Estate Planning consultation.
Above all, interview multiple professionals and find the team that you trust. Don’t let anyone tell you that one size fits all. Work with a team of Fiduciaries that have your best interests in mind!
Good luck and happy Financial Planning!
Ryan Oates, MBA, CPFA
This information is not intended to be a substitute for individualized legal advice. Please consult your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.