Leaving a secure and meaningful legacy

Leaving assets and values to heirs is important goal. Estate planning can help protect your assets and leave a consequential legacy.

Your money and where it goes

Determining costs such as your retirement and other significant expenses for you and your spouse helps sets the size of your estate. Planning should also address related goals such as travel or hobbies.

An important part of this planning is also assuring that significant assets are left to your spouse or dependents. You need to estimate what their needs will be after your death.

These decisions require serious consideration of trade-offs such as a higher of standard of living during your lifetime or leaving a larger legacy. Your home equity, for example, may be sold to finance your expenses or kept intact as an inheritance for your children.

There are also potentially difficult decisions on who will receive your assets. Most people choose to leave their financial assets to their children, grandchildren, and other relatives.

Be creative

Wills and trusts can contain instructions addressing issues that are important for you. If you are interested in environmental issues, for example, you can leave a donation to an environmental cause or arrange a trust to finance a cleanup up or other activity. Trusts can be established to care for an art collection, for the construction and upkeep of a monument or park or for business management.

You can impart your values to your children by establishing limits on the use of an inheritance. Or you can set aside money for family reunions.

Wills and trusts

A will is the standard document that contains your wishes on the distribution of your property and care of minor children. It must be executed in accordance with legal formalities and takes effect after your death.

Trusts are more complex and comprehensive. These establish an arrangement where a third party, the trustee, holds assets on behalf of beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts that have various functions and provide different rights to benefactors.

Trusts are different than wills in many ways. Trusts are in force upon creation. Wills cover assets owned by the benefactor while trusts can govern and distribute other assets.

Wills provide for the transfer of assets upon death. Trusts can hold assets after death for management and distribution in accordance with the benefactor’s instructions. Trusts may also contain provisions directing what happens if a benefactor becomes ill or disabled.

Planning should also include other documents to protect you and your assets such as a power of attorney. An attorney can help establishment a plan that meets your needs and prepare the appropriate documents.