Having an estate plan is a great first step in preserving your wealth and legacy. In order to ensure that your plan is carried out as you intended, it is important that you open the lines of communication with your loved ones and let them know your hopes and wishes for your estate plan. If you fail to communicate your wishes, your family may be left arguing over what they think you would have wanted rather than simply knowing what you wanted.
As such, here is a brief estate planning discussion checklist to help you decide what information you should give to your children or heirs regarding your estate plan:
- Net worth statement, or at the very minimum a broad overview of your wealth
- Final wishes – burial or cremation, memorial services
- Estate planning documents that have been created and what purpose they serve:
- Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, HIPAA Waivers – property management; avoiding guardianship; clarifying wishes regarding life-sustaining procedures; access to medical records
- Revocable Living Trust – avoiding guardianship; keeping final wishes private; avoiding probate; minimizing delays, costs and bureaucracy
- Last Will and Testament – a catch-all for assets not transferred into your Revocable Living Trust prior to death, or the primary means to transfer your wealth if you are not using a Revocable Living Trust
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust – removing life insurance from your taxable estate; providing immediate access to cash
- Advanced Estate Planning – protecting assets from creditors, predators, outside influences, and ex-spouses; charitable giving; minimizing taxes; creating dynasty trusts
- Who will be in charge if you become incapacitated or die – agent named in your Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive; successor trustee of your Revocable Living Trust and other trusts you’ve created; personal representative named in your will
- Benefits of lifetime discretionary trusts created for your heirs:
- Fosters educational opportunities
- Provides asset, divorce, and remarriage protection
- Protects special needs beneficiaries
- Allows for professional asset management
- Minimizes estate taxes at each generation
- Creates a lasting legacy for future generations
- Overall goals and intentions for inheritance – what the money is, and is not, to be used for (in other words, education vs. charitable work vs. vacations vs. Ferraris vs. business opportunities vs. retirement), and who will be trustee of lifetime discretionary trusts created for your heirs and why you’ve selected them
- Where important documents are located – this should include how to access your “digital” assets
- Who your key advisors are and how to contact them
Using Your Professional Advisors to Help You Communicate Your Goals
Your professional advisors are well-positioned to help you discover your wealth priorities, goals, and objectives and then communicate this information to your heirs. This, in turn, will prepare your heirs to receive your wealth instead of being left to figure it out on their own and, as statistics have shown, lose it all.
We are available to assist you with figuring out your wealth transfer goals, putting a plan in place to achieve these goals, and effectively communicating this information to your loved ones. Often, clients ask that we have a “family meeting” at our office to go over their estate plan with their children so that they know what to expect after they pass away. This puts the family at ease knowing that there is a plan in place and it provides an opportunity to ask questions with an estate planning attorney in the room.
Contact our office today if you would like to schedule a free initial consultation for estate planning with an experienced Minnesota estate planning attorney.
Zach Wiegand is a Burnsville estate planning attorney and the owner of Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is an estate planning law firm that handles probate and trust administration in Minnesota. We serve the Twin Cities metropolitan area with a focus on estate planning for clients in Burnsville, Eagan, Savage, Prior Lake, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Eden Prairie and the South Metro. The firm also handles probate in Dakota County, Washington County, Scott County, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County. Zach was named a Minnesota Super Lawyer – Rising Star for both 2017 & 2018 and he is a member of WealthCounsel – a national organization of estate planning attorneys dedicated to practice excellence. You can contact Zach via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (952) 658-6503. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is located in Burnsville at 3000 County Road 42 W., Suite 310, Burnsville, MN 55337.