PROTECTING YOUR FAMILY’S ASSETS
by Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, CFP®
Estate planning can be a difficult subject to discuss. Many people prefer to avoid broaching this topic, as it can be uncomfortable to think about your own mortality.That being said, having an in-depth conversation about estate planning is the key to protecting your assets and providing a bright future for your family. By partnering with a financial advisor to plan your legacy, you can prevent common estate planning pitfalls and promote the financial well-being of your spouse, your children and future generations.
The following tips will help you establish a plan that reflects your desires and vision for the future.
CREATE AN INVENTORY OF ASSETS
The first step in estate planning is creating a comprehensive inventory of all your assets – including property, business holdings,savings, and annuities and so on. In your inventory, be sure to include all of your account numbers, dated statements and an explanation of how each asset is owned. By doing so, you will find it much easier to keep your records up-to-date when your estate plan is executed.
With this foundation in place, you can develop a succession strategy in accordance with your wishes. To make this vision a reality, it is crucial to understand how the estate laws and taxes will impact your assets. A financial expert can help you navigate the red tape and capitalize on opportunities for tax relief.
EVALUATE LIFE INSURANCE COVERAGE
Life insurance can be a critical component of your estate plan,especially if your family members rely on you for financial support.Life insurance provides you with the liquidity you need to protect your business holdings and make sure that your heirs are not forced to sell assets. Life insurance also serves as a great method for passing tax-free inheritance to your loved ones.
To take full advantage of life insurance benefits, you need to understand the types of coverage that are available. You should evaluate the differences between life insurance plans (i.e. term versus whole life coverage) and determine which policy will best fulfill your needs.
To effectively safeguard your assets, you should review all of your existing policies with your financial advisor every 2-3 years, or whenever you experience a major transition in your life. It is also crucial to make sure that your beneficiary designations are up-to-date.
CONSIDER A LIVING TRUST
A living trust can also play a key role in preserving your assets.Living trusts can help your estate to bypass probate, and reducing the costs and hassle associated with passing your inheritance to your family.Living trusts are especially advantageous if you have minor children,property in multiple states, or a large estate that will be subject to estate tax burdens (i.e. estates with assets totaling $5.45 million or more).
DRAFT A WILL
Once you have a clear picture of your assets and a strategy for managing your inheritance, you will need to create a will. In your will, you designate the placement of your assets, name beneficiaries, and establish the executor of your estate. Your will serves as the cornerstone of your estate plan; in fact, your loved ones may receive little to no inheritance if you fail to draft a will.
While there are many online resources to help you draft a will, these templates may not cover all of your estate planning needs. The best approach for creating your will is to collaborate with an attorney and a financial advisor. A team of professionals can assist you in alleviating any complications you may experience when your will is executed.
GATHER OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS
Once you have fully planned your estate, you will need to gather your official documents, including:
- Your will
- Powers of attorney and advanced medical directives
- Life insurance policies• Inventory of assets (including bank statements, property titles and deeds, safety deposit boxes, stocks and savings bonds)
- Beneficiary forms for life insurance and retirement accounts• Living trusts
- A list of important contacts (your attorney, financial planner,trustees and executor) Once you complied your official documents, find a secure location to store your paperwork that is easily accessible to your family.
In order to preserve your legacy for future generations, you need a detailed estate plan that reflects your wishes. Whether you have $1million in assets or an estate of $10 million or more, establishing a partnership with a financial advisor is the best decision you can make.Now is the time to organize your estate plan, facilitate a winning strategy and provide for your family’s future!
Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, CFP®
Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. is located at
9601 Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL (239.262.6577)
Jill Ciccarelli Rapps is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®,
a trained life coach and a partner of Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc., a
family-focused wealth management firm in
Florida and New York.
Investment advisory services offered through Ciccarelli Advisory
Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser independent of FSC
Securities Corporation. Securities and additional investment advisory
services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/
SIPC and a registered investment adviser.
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