Imagine this: you’re an individual whose family has always been about lower means. You don’t have much money, nor do you need it because you know how to stretch a dollar. Suddenly you win a multimillion dollar lottery draw. Your life has changed, but you don’t know whether for better or worse because the scope of what you can pay for is drastically different than it was before. Would you know what to do? Would you know who to ask? The answer is simple enough. You need an estate planning lawyer.
Be wary of financial advisors. Many are only out for themselves, trying to make a quick buck off people who don’t know any better. They might try to take control over your slew of new investments. They might try to sell you a service for commission. Don’t fall into their trap.
These are the things you need to keep in mind:
- Your goal when estate planning is to minimize your overall taxes so that the beneficiaries who inherit the estate won’t have an enormous financial burden when the time comes. Your estate planning lawyer will help you consolidate assets or create separate accounts so the process is easier. An estate freeze may be put into place to ensure taxes do not grow more than they should, depending on where you live.
- Life insurance will sometimes help. Your attorney will help you calculate the tax burden with or without a good life insurance plan.
- A family governance plan will help when consolidating those assets. Not only will overall cost of maintenance go down over time, but each beneficiary will be held accountable for specific aspects of maintaining the estate.
- Drafting a proper will and allocating power of attorney is an important step in the estate planning process, but many of the wealthier estate owners will fail to keep these documents current. If there are disputes when the estate owner dies because the will isn’t specific enough, then the contested articles automatically get kicked to the probate courts. That means a judge makes the final decision about how to divide those assets.
- Decide who will preside as executor over the estate plan once you’re gone. Most people who leave behind a smaller estate will give the responsibility to a trusted family member. As the estate grows, many people will decide to instead give the responsibility to an attorney who has all the relevant documents anyway.
- Consider placing money into trusts for beneficiaries; especially those who are younger. You can provide prerequisite instructions for how this money is to be divided up. Will a beneficiary get it all at age 18? Or will he get a slice now, and more when he’s older and wiser? It’s up to you.