Personal Finance

Translating Goals into Action

Creating an estate plan may seem like a difficult and complex undertaking. But if you approach the task in steps, you will find you can transform your financial goals into an action plan that will help protect your family’s financial future.

Step 1: Define Your Goals

The basic objectives of an estate plan are to arrange for the orderly transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries at the time of your death and to assure the future management of those assets. So, the first issues to resolve are:

  • Who are your beneficiaries?
  • What assets will they inherit?
  • When will the assets be transferred?

Consider whether you want an organization or individual to assist your family with asset management following your death. And estate taxes remain a significant risk that you’ll want to address if you have substantial assets.

Do you have minor children? Arranging for their care and providing the necessary financial resources will be top priorities, as will providing for the possibility of your disability.

Step 2: Collect Existing Documents and Data

Next, assemble the documents and data that will form the basis of your estate plan, including:

  • Your will and any trust documents you may already have 
  • Current beneficiary designations for your retirement plans, insurance policies, etc. 
  • Ownership records of your home and any other real estate
  • A list with current values of all your assets (investments, real estate, and others) and debts

Step 3: Identify Strategies

At this point, you’ll want to involve one or more professionals — a trust officer, attorney, account¬ant, tax advisor, or other individual — who are knowledgeable and experienced in estate planning. With professional help, you will be able to determine the best strategies for accomplishing your goals.

The solutions you consider may include one or more trusts to ensure that:

  • Your family will have the reliable help they will need to manage the estate assets, and 
  • Your beneficiaries will receive their inheritances according to the schedule and terms you desire.

Step 4: Implement Your Plan

You will work with one or more professionals to update or create your will and any other documents that are necessary to implement your plan. This step may involve rearranging the ownership records or beneficiary designations of some assets. And, if your plan includes a trust to be funded immediately, you may need to transfer assets to your trustee.

Step 5: Review Periodically

An estate plan is a work in progress because your personal and family circumstances and assets are not static. Neither are the tax laws. Therefore, you will want to review your plan on an ongoing basis — at least every few years and always after important family changes, such as a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, retirement, death of a spouse, etc., or any changes to the tax law. 

Periodic reviews will help guarantee that your plan remains effectively focused on achieving your goals and providing for your family’s future welfare.

Let Us Assist You

We have the knowledge and experience to help you create a plan for your estate that will meet your goals. If you already have a plan, we can review it in light of your current situation and needs. And, if your plan includes a trust, our organization is ready — as professional trustee — to help your spouse, children, or other beneficiaries during the trust’s entire term. Please call us if you want to discuss your goals.

Source: DST

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, its affiliates, and its employees are not in the business of providing tax, regulatory, accounting, or legal advice. These materials and any taxrelated statements are not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used or relied upon, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Any such taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

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