When it comes to planning out your passing, one of the most important steps is definitely Legacy planning. Essentially, this is the act of deciding exactly how you would want your valuable assets to bequeathed to your family following you death. In essence, it is just like “estate planning” but you also can pass on less tangible items, like establishing a charitable giving focus or imparting certain moral values to future family members. Basically, any item or assets that you leave behind will help your beneficiaries in their day-to-day lives and even after your passing. Here are several tips to make sure you make the most of your gift giving and legacy planning.
You’ll need to talk with an estate planning attorney before making any final decisions about your estate. This includes figuring out exactly how much money you have to leave to your family, how much you have to leave them in your name, and what kind of monetary gifts you want to make. Your estate plan will basically take care of all of these questions for you, which means that you don’t need to go through the stress of dealing with your death costs or your taxes when you pass away. Your attorney can help you make these decisions.
In addition to discussing this with an estate planner, it helps to close out any current banking and other financial accounts you may have. Many people who are planning out their deaths benefit from having all of their money in one place so they can make one last big payment before they pass away and so they can get their assets transferred to your family in accordance to their wills or as determined by their financial advisors. These accounts typically have little to no cash value, but instead they are “self-dealing” accounts where you keep the cash value of your investments and can claim a tax deduction upon the sale of the property and other assets within the account. Closing out any current bank accounts and other investments that are not being used to fund your future estate is an important step in your legacy planning.
Another important part of any plan to ensure that your family is properly taken care of after you pass is to establish a charitable legacy. When you create a charitable trust, you may specify how your assets will be dispersed upon your passing. You may choose to use a charitable foundation that is designed to benefit your family, your beneficiaries, and others who are less fortunate than you. Using a charitable foundation allows you to specify how much money goes to charity, where it goes, and what you plan to do with it in the future.
If you have a substantial amount of money that would not be included in your estate if you did not make some type of charitable contribution, you might include it in your estate. You might include educational fees and other kinds of professional fees, taxes, or interest on a home mortgage, which are generally considered non-taxable assets. In some cases, you might include a portion of your home equity in your estate, as long as it is exempt from inheritance tax.
Power of Attorney
Regardless of the assets you decide to include in your estate plan, you should create a durable power of attorney for your surviving spouse. This allows your spouse to take over certain decisions in your name without undergoing a legal proceeding. Your loved ones will still be able to communicate with you, however, and they will also be able to make decisions about their inheritances. In the end, your legacy planning and your estate planning are about making sure that your family’s needs are taken care of after you pass and having clear goals like that can help guide your loved ones into making the most of their lives after you pass.