A lifetime of hard work, attention to detail, and diligent money management made you wealthy. Still, you rest easy at night knowing that all that you have will go to the next generation of your family when the time comes. Being able to pass on wealth or assets is a great honor for many people, especially if they started from nothing.
However, you have to be just as diligent, methodical, and hard-working at planning inheritances as you were while acquiring that inheritance. When you can meet with an estate planning attorney to make sure that your inheritance is ready when you need it to be, here are seven tips for planning inheritance.
The first and most important tip to planning inheritance is to start early. As soon as you have something to leave to your beneficiaries, begin the estate planning process.
Most people wait until they have amassed a fortune and lived into their retirement years before considering how to structure an inheritance. This is not a good idea since unexpected events can happen at any time.
Even if you believe that something isn’t likely to happen to you, everyone involved in a car accident or ends up in the hospital wishes that they had planned ahead for such problems. Don’t be one of those people filled with regret over having waited, and start planning your estate as soon as you can.
Consult a Professional Estate Planning Attorney
With something so important as inheritance, why wouldn’t you consult a professional estate planning attorney? You only get one chance to get this estate plan right, and getting help from a professional estate planning attorney puts you in the best position to successfully protect and transfer your assets.
Inventory Your Assets
If you want to leave your assets to someone, you have to know what assets you have. Don’t wait until you want to set up a trust or other inheritance vehicle to take a look at your assets. Make a detailed list of your assets, including their current value and an idea of what you want to do with them.
For example, homes are usually a point of contention in inheritance planning. Houses can be worth a lot, but they can also cause issues with inheritance taxes and other transfer problems. On top of that, most beneficiaries are already established in their own homes and don’t want to move into an inherited one. You need to plan ahead for this since you may need to have the house repaired and sold or have the beneficiary move into the house.
Alternatively, make sure that there are no assets that you forgot about. This often happens with stocks and bank accounts and can cause issues with taxes and ownership. Include everything that can be considered an asset, and update the list regularly to make sure that it is as accurate as possible.
Make a detailed list of your assets. This should include bank accounts, real estate, investments, and valuable personal items. Regular updates ensure your estate plan reflects your current asset portfolio.
Before you can decide what to do with your assets, you have to know who they are going to. Make a list of beneficiaries alongside the assignment of assets. This makes it easier to ensure that you include everyone that you wanted on the first try.
Create an Estate Plan
As you get ready to plan your inheritance, make sure that you have a plan for your entire estate. If some of your assets are not going to beneficiaries, it’s important to note that in your inheritance plans.
Create an estate plan with help from an attorney, including drafting a will. You can even consider including a trust as a means of setting up an inheritance. Discuss this with your attorney to see if it is a good idea.
Appoint a Power of Attorney
Near the end, many people have a health situation that makes them unable to manage their estate. Before this happens, appoint a power of attorney, or a legal representative, who can manage your affairs. Picking someone that you trust and providing directions for them makes it easier to know if your assets will be well managed.
Create Healthcare Directives
Alongside a power of attorney, create healthcare directives that dictate how you want to act when you are unable to manage your own affairs. It is as simple as answering one important question: what would you like to do if you fell into a coma?
Your healthcare directives explain what to do in situations like this. You also need to have a living will and health care proxy so that people know what to do when your health fails and who can make decisions for you.
Contact a Chicago Estate Planning Attorney Today
Inheritance planning, and estate planning in general, can be difficult to do on your own, but it is a part of facing the end with grace and dignity. Take steps now to make sure that you are well-prepared when the time comes. Make plans for your estate with the help of a qualified Chicago estate planning attorney. Contact James C. Provenza & Associates, P.C. at (847) 729-3939 or fill out our online form to schedule an appointment.