Common Sense Estate Planning Tips
Many people avoid estate planning for various reasons. But, even if you’ve got a plan in place, problems may arise after your death. The problems can take many forms: waste of your estate by foolish heirs, contested probate of your estate, or worse, the disintegration of relationships. A recent Forbes article recommends not letting emotion sabotage your plan, and that is good advice. But it’s important to deal with the emotional aspects of your estate plan to help your family, your legacy, and your life.
Education is important
Education is one of the best ways to avoid overwhelming heirs in line to receive large inheritances and guarantee their long-term financial welfare. It can be all too easy for beneficiaries without any financial acumen to make poor investments, and education can help. But it doesn’t have to be a formal education. Here are some top tips for educating your beneficiaries:
- Start teaching your children about money as early as possible
- Let your children manage money and make investments – turn it into a project!
- Teach your beneficiaries to distinguish their “needs” from their “wants”
- Encourage your beneficiaries to value each other and your family
Communication is essential
The potential for a mismatch of expectations is a serious threat to your estate plan’s success, but communication and transparency help tremendously. Telling your children and heirs about your plan is essential, even if you plan to give unequal amounts to them. And you don’t have to talk about specific numbers. Here, any information is better than no information.
You should also communicate your legacy, which is as much about your values as it is your valuables. When heirs know their family history and take ownership of their unique family narrative, they more readily see themselves as an integral part of a greater story. Although a family’s narrative doesn’t have to be a book, it should be something that is documented (so your heirs can retain it and, hopefully, add to it and pass it down.
Estate Planning Updates are key
A lot can change over time. Even if the size of your estate remains relatively constant, there are other changes to consider. Proposed executors can move or pass away, beneficiaries get married and divorced, and family relationships can change; what’s more, simply having a will or trust in place doesn’t ensure success. You should review your estate planning documents regularly, especially after major life events (births, deaths, significant illnesses, and marriage/divorce). Your legacy is too important to do anything else.
Contact the Law Office of William Harris for help today!
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