Estate Planning Strategies

Many investors focus on long-term saving issues such as planning for retirement and providing for the education of a child. While accumulation of wealth is a primary concern, the protection and transfer of wealth to future generations is often overlooked. With the incredible transfer of wealth expected to take place in the upcoming years, planning for the transfer of an estate takes on greater importance. Much of the preparation can be done before you meet with an estate planning attorney.

What Can an Estate Plan Do For You?

Although every situation is unique and every estate plan is individualized, an estate plan can address a number of planning objectives, like:

  • Preserving the value of your estate
  • Providing for the current management of your assets and affairs
  • Managing your assets and affairs for you and your heirs in the event you become disabled or incapacitated
  • Maximizing what you transfer to your beneficiaries
  • Reducing or eliminating probate
  • Minimizing the transfer taxes you must pay, such as federal estate taxes
  • Providing for ongoing management of assets for the surviving spouse, children, and/or grandchildren

At Stifel, we strive to serve as a resource to our clients. Estate planning can be confusing, and we want to help you understand your options so you can make informed decisions. We have an estate planning guide to help you become more educated about the estate planning process and how it can help you accumulate, preserve, and pass your wealth in the manner you desire. For a copy of our estate planning guide, go to our Contact Us page and click on the Contact Form button and complete the request stating you are interested in obtaining the estate planning guide. Stifel also has an estate planning coordinator who works with us in preparing you to meet with your estate planning attorney.

8 Life Stages for Estate Planning:

  1. Young and single, the four documents you should have to make sure your loved ones can carry out your wishes.
    • A general durable power of attorney enables you to designate who will control your finances if you become incapacitated.
    • A health care proxy allows you to designate who will make medical decisions on your behalf.
    • A living will lets you lay out your wishes regarding life-sustaining medical treatment.
    • A HIPPA release which allows your designated agent to discuss any medical conditions without violating patient privacy laws. Otherwise your loved ones may have to go to court to seek guardianship over you to assert those controls.
  2.  Single, but in a committed relationship.
    • If you are in a long-term relationship but unmarried, create a will or trust if you want your life partner to inherit your possessions; otherwise, they will go to your closest relative according to your state's law.
  3. Engaged to be married.
    • Have many conversations about money, as it will be beneficial for you both going forward.  For some, a prenuptial agreement may be suitable.
    • If you own a home or when you plan to, get life insurance for at least the amount of your mortgage.
  4. Newly married.
    • Just because you are married, doesn't necessarily give your spouse the rights you may think. Revise your durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPPA release if you want to make sure your spouse will control financial and medical decisions if you become incapacitated.
    • If you don't have a will or trust, get one. If you do have one, then make any of the necessary changes due to your marriage.
    • Review your beneficiaries on your IRAs, employer-sponsored retirement plans, life insurance policies as well as any other accounts you have that have a beneficiary listed.
  5.   You become parents.
    • Update your will to choose a guardian in case you both pass away prematurely. You can also include a provision for a trust to be set up for children that are still minors, and therefore, a trustee needs to be chosen.
  6. Divorce
    • If you end up getting a divorce, make sure to update all your medical and financial documents, especially your beneficiary designations.
  7. Middle age.
    • This is the time to start considering long-term care insurance.
  8. Your golden years.
    • Review your life insurance as well as designations on your durable power of attorney, health care proxy, and HIPPA release to make sure the people you wish to fulfill those roles are named.
    • Some even plan or pre-pay for their funeral arrangements.

Every stage of life has particular estate planning considerations. Our estate planning coordinator can help you get the ball rolling before you even meet with an estate planning attorney.

Stifel does not provide legal or tax advice.  You should consult with your legal and tax advisors regarding your particular situation.