Estate Planning

“But in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Estate planning is a formal process whereby an individual arranges for the orderly disposal of their assets to eliminate uncertainties over administration and probate. Although impacted by all areas of financial planning, estate planning is highly integrated with tax planning as all capital property is deemed to be disposed of immediately prior to death, triggering any deferred taxes.

An important purpose of estate planning is estimating the liquidity needs of your estate to insure there is adequate capital available to pay income taxes and other costs associated with probate. Not planning for the capital needs of your estate can create additional expenses related to forced liquidation of assets at a value less than expected.

The focus of your estate planning will be determined by your specific goals and needs and can be as simple or complex as your situation dictates. To ensure your family has a clear understanding of your intentions and to minimize the possibility of resentment between family members due to confusion over who gets what, you should maintain a Gifting Inventory of all gifts made prior to your death. You may also want to maintain a Memorandum of Wishes to provide any final requests, instructions for the distribution of personal property or advice you may want to give.

In addition to leaving informal instructions, your estate plan should include several legal documents including a Will, Power of Attorney, Personal Directive and possibly one or more Trusts.

RECORD TYPE: Plans and Wishes

The plans you make and the instructions you leave your family will help to minimize the possibility of resentment between family members due to confusion over who gets what.

Suggested Action: Upload a copy of any Letters you would like to leave your family and friends. You should also use a Gifting Inventory and Memorandum of Wishes to ensure there is no resentment or confusion regarding your plans.

RECORD TYPE: Last Will and Testament

A Will dictates how your estate assets are to be distributed, provides instruction for the ongoing care of dependents and names a guardian for any minor children among other things.

Suggested Action: Upload a copy of your Last Will and Testament.

RECORD TYPE: Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney lets you appoint a personal representative to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated and are unable to do so yourself.

Suggested Action: Upload a copy of your Power of Attorney.

RECORD TYPE: Health Care Directive

A Health Care Directive, also known as a Personal Directive or Living Will, a is a type of Power of Attorney that lets you appoint a person you trust to make certain decisions regarding your personal care should you be unable to do so for yourself.

Suggested Action: Upload a copy of your Health Care Directive, Personal Directive or Living Will.

RECORD TYPE: Trust Documents

In simple terms, a Trust is a document that spells out how property held for the benefit of one or more beneficiaries is to be managed. There are many different types of trusts that can be used to accomplish a variety of estate planning goals. Common goals for a trust are to avoid probate, minimize estate taxes and to protect property from creditors.

Suggested Action: Upload a copy of any Trust Documents you have.

NEXT Steps

  • Download Resources
    Click the Resources link to download and print the various worksheets and templates applicable to your needs. Set aside some time over the next few days to complete each one. Remember to involve your partner/spouse should you have one.
  • Gather Documents
    Complete each worksheet or template and gather other statements and documents for each type of Record to be uploaded to this Tile.
  • Upload Documents
    Using a scanner or the Sidedrawer Mobile App, upload all statements and documents to the appropriate Record for secure storage and collaboration with your family and trusted advisors.
  • Add Collaborators
    From the Sidedrawer home screen, click on the Collaborator icon to add someone you wish to give access to one or more of your Records. Enter their email, name and relationship to you, then select the Record and permissions to be granted.

Click here to print the Estate Planning Document Checklist.

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