Following specific steps is important to a successful estate plan.
It is not uncommon to make mistakes.
These frequently occur in areas outside of our areas of experience.
Although blunders are common, they can be costly.
To err is human; to forgive, divine. (Alexander Pope)
According to a recent Forbes article titled “7 Steps To Ensure A Successful Estate Plan,” oversights in estate planning are particularly problematic.
The worst mistake you can make is not to have an estate plan in the first place or not to review and update the plan you already have.
However, if you have an up-to-date estate plan, these there are other steps you can take for a successful estate plan.
Think of it like the follow through on your golf swing.
What are they?
Education and communication.
Your heirs and agents should understand your wishes.
If they do not understand their roles and responsibilities, they may fall victim to scams or mishandle your assets.
Inherited money spends differently than earned wages.
For this reason, your heirs may waste the gifts you have given.
To prevent this, you can utilize a trust in estate plan.
Although this certainly protects money, it should not replace the act of teaching responsible money management to your children.
Prepare for family conflict.
Sometimes these are big arguments.
Other times they are small and quickly forgiven.
It is unwise to assume your children will be able to manage conflict well without you present.
Explain your reasons for your division of assets to your heirs.
Doing so may keep your wishes from feeling like favoritism.
Plan ahead for gifting.
A successful estate plan often includes gifts.
These are made before you die and allow heirs to get used to managing what they did not earn.
When making gifts, you should consider the best methods of doing so.
Some assets will be more tempting to waste than others.
Make sure you understand the plan.
Before you can explain your plan to your loved ones, you need to understand it yourself.
To be a truly successful estate plan, it is best to ask any questions you have to your experienced estate planning attorney.
Taking notes, so you do not forget what you learned, can help.
Get organized and prepare.
Will your executor be able to find everything he or she needs to settle your estate?
If your documents are not organized, it will be harder for your executor to follow your wishes.
Take time now to gather your legal documents and pertinent information and store them in a safe location.
Create a business succession plan.
If you own a business, you will not have a successful estate plan without a business succession plan.
Your business is likely one of your most significant assets.
Without a plan, the value of your business can deplete quickly.
As a result, what you build will be worthless or worth less to your loved ones.
If your estate plan includes a trust, you will need to fund it.
An empty trust will benefit you and your loved ones very little, or certainly less than intended.
Probate will not be avoided.
To have trust authority over assets, ownership must be titled and transferred to the trust itself.
By reviewing and following these steps, you can rest knowing you have set up a successful estate plan for yourself and your loved ones.
Reference: Forbes (May 27, 2021) “7 Steps To Ensure A Successful Estate Plan”