Estate Planning with Retirement Accounts

For many Americans, their IRAs, 401ks, and other qualified accounts are their largest assets. These assets will be passed on to their heirs. The government gives a lot of special treatment to these types of accounts. In order for them to benefit your heirs in the same way that they have helped you, your heirs need to do all of the right things with them. You can make these choices for them. They involve a special type of trust. You can use a retirement trust to do this.

A Retirement trust is a special kind of trust that allows your heirs to take advantage of all of the benefits of your retirement account.  The money can continue to grow tax deferred and keep the benefits it is used properly. Your estate plan can set this up.

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When should you update your Estate Plan?

When should you update an estate plan? When circumstances have changed for you is the simple answer.  This could be a marriage. This could be a divorce.  Maybe you had another kid.

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Maybe you sold your business.  Maybe you got an inheritance.

Some changes you might not realize. This is usually a change in the law. That’s why you should have your estate plan reviewed every few years by an estate planning attorney.

If this video helped you, you might find the two below to be useful as well:

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Are trusts just for the rich and famous?

Celebrities and the ultra rich are well known for having trusts.  Many of the rich and famous include these in their estate plan.  To most people, these instruments seem like they were designed for tax efficiency and to shelter the wealth of the ultra rich.  They think that these are just not for normal people.

They are wrong.

Trusts have many uses that help people from all walks of life. Just a few are:

Probate Avoidance

Asset Protection and

Keeping property in the family

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What Happens If You Die Without An Estate Plan?

What happens if you die without a will or any estate plan? It might not be as bad as you think, but it does probably involve some consequences that you didn’t plan for. Anything without a beneficiary has to go through probate.  This process is called intestate succession.  You also lose control of what happens to the money. Suppose you have kids from a previous marriage.

If you have no plan, then your ex might end up in control of the money. Sure, the court might watch it and the money is supposed to be spent on the kids, but there may be no fiduciary in between. What if you remarried? Does your spouse really really love the kids that are from the previous relationship?

For more on avoiding probate, check out the video below.

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Incapacity Planning Is Important

Incapacity Planning is very important. It can be even more important than Estate Planning. How will your family take care of you if you are just injured and don’t die?  Do you have long term care insurance?

Do you have disability insurance?  What if you just get too old and your mind begins to go?  That can have a much more devastating affect than your death.  The emotional toll of having to take care of you after an accident while also dealing with financial pressure is often worse.

What happens if you don’t have a plan? Living Probate.  The video below explains that as well.

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Should you name a sibling as trustee?

It is always a tough choice when naming a trustee for your estate plan.  Many times we might do this because we want to save money or we just feel that one child is more responsible than the others.  This might work many times, but the problems are large when it goes sideways.

More than just money is at stake in these disputes. Entire families can become estranged, and that is not normally something we want to see happen.  Many times it just isn’t worth the risk.

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Planning is not a Projection

Just predicting the future and letting it run its course is not planning. Planning is when you take identify steps that you can take now to shape the future and change it for the better. You do not tax plan just by predicting how much money you will have to pay at the end of the year. You plan by deciding what you can do now to lower that future bill. Then seeing it through.

The same is true for business planning and estate planning. You are going to die. Your stuff will be passed to someone else. Planning just to transfer the assets is not a plan. A plan will help you do things with those assets to make sure they take care of your family when you are gone.

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Planning Is About People

Planning is about people. Too often we focus on the things. We focus on taxes or we focus on the business and the heirlooms.  Don’t forget that the purpose of planning is people.

Planning is about our loved ones, our employees, our customers, and the other people in our lives. It is about a result or a goal that enhances our lives and theirs.  The plan itself is about taking steps and actions to achieve those outcomes to enhance people’s lives.

The things and the money are the fuel for that process. We use them along with our other talents to achieve the goals. We just got out of tax season. Many people are focused on planning right now. It is just that they are focused on the dollars and cents.  We should look to the people first.

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