September 8, 2017

A Sound Estate Plan: A Gift for Loved Ones

by Bradley R. Glover, Kessler & Ballenger Co. LPA

You will rarely read a newspaper article about the perfectly planned estate, since leaving behind a well-executed estate plan is not generally newsworthy. However, it is not at all unusual to read salacious stories about the individual who left behind a quagmire for family to wade through; recent examples include Prince, Alan Thicke and Muhammad Ali.

While most individuals do not have large and complex estates like those of these deceased celebrities, even the smallest estates will benefit from some level of planning.

No matter the size of your estate, a will decreases the uncertainty and stress that may arise during the administration of your estate. Most of the time, a last will and testament is not enough, it’s important to also work with your attorney to create a revocable living trust and a living will and make sure you have healthcare and financial powers of attorney.

Regardless of wealth, some of the most challenging estates often stem from those with no plan in place for post-death administration. Without a will, state law determines the distribution of assets and guardianship of any minor children. The court will also appoint an administrator who is responsible for collecting the property, paying the debts and distributing what’s left to other family members.

When meeting with your attorney to get your estate in order, be sure to provide statements on your bank, investments and retirement, current life insurance policies, beneficiary designations and business documents, and inventory of any valuable collectibles, artwork or jewelry.

By preparing an estate plan early and updating it often, the only article that will appear in the newspaper following your death will be a lengthy obituary full of loving memories and tributes to a life well lived.