Three Key Ways to Help Your Heirs
If you intend to pass on investments, real estate and/or business assets upon your death, remember that your loved ones will be dealing with complicated estate issues in a time of great grief and confusion. You can make their lives much easier and maximize the impact of your assets by clarifying what you have, where it is, and how you envision it being used.
Here are three ways you can greatly simplify the wealth transfer process for your heirs.
Start with the inevitable. Determine your potential federal and state estate taxes and sources of liquidity to pay them. By earmarking specific assets to be used to pay taxes, you’ll lighten the decision load for your spouse or children.
Draw a picture. Your heirs will walk out of the estate attorney’s office with many legal documents and instructions on what needs to be done. At best they’ll be confused; at worst, overwhelmed. For many, a picture better depicts your plan and captures the necessary steps to achieve it. So in addition to the legal documents, create a visual flowchart to show how your estate plan works. It can make a huge difference.
Collect the details. A client of mine, Harris “Hershey” Rosen wrote a valuable book called “Creating a Guide So Your Loved Ones Can Go on Living” and is presently developing a similar app. His goal is to help people clearly catalog where all the “stuff” is located—from investment accounts to online bill payment passwords to safety deposit box keys.
In the same spirit, we assist our investment and planning clients by providing them a secure online “vault” to store and share critical documents such as wills, trusts, deeds, etc. Based on our experience, anything that can be done during life to help your loved ones at the time of your death is worth the time and effort.
Jerry Dorfman, CPA, PFS, is co-founder and principal of Convergence Wealth Advisors in Providence, RI. www.convergencewa.com