Estate planning tip: Start with your beneficiaries

In recent posts, we’ve explored a variety of different estate planning instruments, such as wills, revocable living trusts and payable-on-death accounts. In today’s post, we approach estate planning from a different angle: thinking first about the people, or one’s beneficiaries.

The thought of estimating the value of one’s future estate can seem like a daunting process. Similarly, it may be hard for individuals to choose between a will, a trust or another option at the outset of their planning. In both cases, it may be easier to start the discussion by focusing on one’s loved ones. By focusing on the unique needs of each beneficiary, appropriate instruments may be chosen and the form of one’s estate plan will start to take shape.

For many, that list begins with their spouse and any children. Regarding transfers to a spouse, the right of survivorship simplifies the process, to some extent. For example, property such as a house that is held jointly will automatically transfer to the spouse. However, an attorney that focuses on estate planning knows that it is wise to plan for multiple contingencies. If both parents were to die, a plan should be in place to provide for the children.

Naming a trustee and placing assets in a trust will ensure that parents have some say in how decisions are made for minor children in the event of their death. Again, however, focusing on the person — rather than the property — may help parents select a trustee that will truly be best for their children. To learn more about wills and trusts, check out our firm’s website page.

Source: Huffington Post, “Death Deal: Will or Revocable Living Trust?” Terry Savage, Sept. 22, 2014

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