When was the last time you had to reference the “assembly instructions?” You may be able to recall a home project or special Christmas when you had received a gift that required assembly. Trying to sort all the pieces and fit them together without instructions can be endlessly frustrating and doesn’t work! An estate plan is like a set of assembly instructions and is key to making sure that the gift you leave your family or community at the end of your life is easily and quickly received in the way you intend.
At Grand Wealth, we believe that there are 5 essential to-do’s when you are creating or updating your estate plan:
- Refresh your financial goals: Throughout your life, you have worked hard to achieve your financial goals for yourself and your family. Your estate plan is another opportunity to refine your goals and values and put a plan in place so that they are honored. For example, often inheritance left to family or a gift to charity may be designated for a specific purpose. You can include the specific purpose within your estate plan documents and this is a great way to pass your values to your beneficiaries.
- Confirm agents and beneficiaries: In your estate plan, you have chosen a personal representative, power of attorney, and perhaps a trustee. You also have chosen how your estate is divided between you beneficiaries. Periodically, the agents you have named (as well as their successors) and your beneficiaries should be reviewed. If the people named are not fit to serve in their role or you need to update a beneficiary, now is the time to make that change. The most important agents and successors to name are:
a. Personal representative
b. Guardian for minor children
d. Power of attorney for finances
e. Power of attorney for health care
- Consider creating a trust: You probably have heard of a will, yet a trust is another tool that can help you meet your estate plan goals. A revocable trust, or living trust, is a document that directs the division of any assets owned by the trust at the end of your life. There are three main advantages of a trust over only having a will:
a. Your estate avoids probate – probate is expensive, slow, and public
b. You can customize the division and use of your estate
c. Your affairs remain private
- Update asset titling and beneficiary designations: Just as assembly instructions are useless unless they are followed, an estate plan won’t serve its purpose unless it is implemented correctly. Now that the documents have been updated, titling assets in the name of the trust and updating beneficiary designations is required to fully implement your estate plan. Titling or beneficiary designations should be reviewed for real estate, bank and investment accounts, insurance policies, annuities, pensions, business interest, vehicles, and boats.
- Communicate your plan: Inform your agents and family members who you have selected to be your personal agent, trustee, and power of attorney. Having a conversation about how you want to be cared for if you are incapacitated or disabled will make everyone more comfortable if the time comes. It may also be appropriate to communicate to your family how you intend to pass an inheritance to them. By being clear about your plan, you can help to settle future disputes between family members about your true intentions. You may also find opportunities to make financial gifts during your life which can be beneficial to the recipient and to you because you can experience the joy of using the gift.
Now that your plan has been created, it is important to review your plan periodically. Grand Wealth’s 3-Year Financial Planning Schedule will make sure your plan is reviewed and properly implemented by reviewing your plan at least once every three years. Writing down the instructions for assembly is important to make sure that your estate plan is accomplishing more for your family and community.
· Personal representative – named in a will and is the executor of your estate
· Guardian for minor children – named in a will and is the care taker for minor children
· Trustee – named in a trust and controls the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries
· Power of attorney for finances – responsible for making financial decisions (paying bills, etc.) when you are incapacitated
· Power of attorney for health care – responsible for making health care decisions when you are incapacitated
Grand Wealth Management is an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about Grand Wealth Management’s investment advisory services can be found in its Form ADV Part 2, which is located below
Grand Wealth Management, LLC
333 Bridge Street NW, Suite 800
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Through our wealth management process we look forward to learning what is important to you and introducing you to our professional team. Contact us to get started.