Though much of estate planning focuses on implementing strategies to minimize federal taxes, there are several other reasons why individuals of all income levels should engage in the planning process under the guidance of experienced professionals.
Ensure your Wishes are Followed
If you do not have a valid will at the time of your death, the entirety of your estate will pass through the probate courts, and state laws will dictate how and to whom your assets pass. In other words, it is unlikely your cherished collection of baseball cards or antique dolls will pass to the child or grandchild with whom you shared that hobby. More importantly, the lengthy and costly probate process may delay or impede your surviving heirs’ ability to access funds needed to pay the mortgage, utilities and other critical expenses.
Keep Your Estate Organized for Surviving Heirs
The grief and emotional turmoil individuals may feel following the death of a loved one can be quite overwhelming. Imagine the added stress surviving family members would endure if they also had to make decisions about a decedent’s assets and personal effects without any guidance from the deceased. The best way to avoid this scenario and any resulting disagreements between your heirs is to have your estate properly organized with a list of your advisors and their contact information, an up-to-date inventory of your assets and debts, a personal memorandum detailing personal wishes, and your login information for financial accounts, bill payments and digital assets.
Maintain Your Privacy, Protect your Assets
While a valid will can ensure your wishes are followed and fulfilled after you are gone, it alone cannot prevent your estate from going through the probate process. Consequently, your assets, debts and the contents of your will are made public. The only way to avoid the unwarranted disclosure of this information and protect your estate and beneficiaries from legal claims is to engage in estate planning using a variety of trust instruments and other strategies.
Plan for a Charitable Legacy
If you are charity-minded, estate planning during your lifetime can help you leave behind a lasting and impactful legacy of service and support for the community where you live and the causes that are most important to you and your family. There is a wide range of charitable giving strategies you may employ in your estate plan to meet different needs and goals. For example, you may designate a charity as a beneficiary in your will or donate appreciated assets to the organizations that are nearest and dearest to your heart. For more substantial gifts, you may consider establishing a charitable remainder trust, a donor-advised fund or a gift to a community foundation.
About the Author: Eric Zeitlin is managing director of Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), an Independent Registered Investment Advisor affiliated with Berkowitz Pollack Brant Advisors + CPAs and a registered representative with PWA Securities, LLC. He can be reached at the firm’s Fort Lauderdale, Fla., office at (954) 712-8888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provenance Wealth Advisors (PWA), 200 E. Las Olas Blvd., 19th Floor, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301 (954) 712-8888.
Eric Zeitlin is a registered representative of and offers securities through PWA Securities, LLC, Member FINRA/SIPC.
This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.
Any opinions are those of the advisors of PWA and not necessarily those of PWA Securities, LLC. While we are familiar with the tax provisions of the issues presented herein, as Financial Advisors of PWAS, we are not qualified to render advice on tax or legal matters. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. Prior to making any investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.
Posted on October 11, 2023