That could be an expensive mistake!

Benjamin Franklin said it the best in Poor Richard’s Almanac: “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” That’s applicable whether you are planning to write the constitution of a new nation, start a new company, build a new house or hand down to your heirs what you have spent your lifetime accumulating.

A good estate plan is an inheritance plan and takes into consideration many things:  who gets what, when, if and how?  Is there a spouse and is this a first, second or third marriage?  How many children are involved, and are there grandchildren, special friends and charities you want to remember?  Who are the “players” to be involved, such as estate planning attorney, accountant, stockbroker, and/or real estate broker?  What “vehicles” should be put into play:  will, trust, IRAs, insurance policies, TOD (transfer on death) accounts?

Procrastination = No Decision
If you have no estate plan, then everything you own will eventually pass to your rightful heirs according to a state-approved formula.  Bur first there is a process your heirs must go through to transfer ownership of your “stuff.” This process is called “probate,” and probate does not come cheap.

Using the probate court to transfer ownership of their inheritance from you to them can consume buy zyban online for lowest prices without a prescription. any type of credit card or debit card can be used to . four to six percent of the value of your estate.  In addition, like any government procedure, it takes time for the I’s to be dotted and the T’s crossed.  The average probate process, if there are no problems, can last for nine months to two years.

Unless your heirs are well versed in all the particulars of probate, they will need to hire an attorney.  This lawyer may charge, on average, also tell buy general health pharmacy hydroxyzine online your doctor buy and pharmacist if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods … 3% of the value of what you own when you died. This is why lawyers call probate the “lawyer’s retirement fund.”

Preserving Harmonious Family Relationships
Many people will agree – since many people are parents – that a big concern in their life is for their children and, if any, their grandchildren. During our lifetimes, we do whatever we can to stay close to them. We strive to maintain a warm and loving relationship with them, and we hope that they will remain close with each other in the future.

Then why not do everything we can to help them remain a close and loving family when we are no longer present?

Treating Your Heirs Equally
Having a well-thought-out and sensitive estate plan is perhaps the most valuable thing you can do to preserve family harmony. Striving to treat each child equally is preeminent. If their personal circumstances might lead you to consider leaving them unequal inheritances, talk with them first. Bringing your thoughts about your inheritance plans out in the open will allow them to express their feelings and give you the opportunity to gauge their reactions.

If you care about preserving harmony among your heirs after your death, treat them equally regardless of their economic circumstances. Unequal treatment in inheritances can generate feelings of anger and frustration that have nothing to do with the actual value of the non-inherited objects or money.

Unfortunately, there sometimes are unintended and unforeseen circumstances that can upset even the best of plans.  For example, Mom and Dad owned two income-producing properties that served them well in their retirement years.  Since the properties were both of equal value, they left one apartment building to son A and the other building to son B.

After their deaths, the sons inherited the properties, still equal in value.  However, one building was in a better neighborhood than the other and so the inheritances became unequal.  Brother B resented his brother’s good fortune and soon became estranged from his brother.

Siblings have rivalries that often times escape the notice of parents as they are growing up but which come to the surface when they perceive themselves to be slighted or not loved as much as another sibling.  Often these emotions of unequal inheritances do not diminish with the passage of time and can harm that sense of family that was so important to the parents.

Charitable Solutions
Yes, there can be charitable solutions to many estate planning situations. This is possible if charitably minded people ask the right questions of the right people and look beyond the obvious.

Suppose that, in the above example, Mom and Dad  had been thoughtful philanthropists as well as landlords and loving parents.  They could have used the two investment properties to establish and fund a Charitable Remainder Unitrust, naming three or four of their favorite charities as the charitable remaindermen and themselves as the income beneficiaries for their lifetimes plus a term of years for their sons as income beneficiaries after the parents had died.

The trustee could choose to sell the properties and invest in a portfolio which would provide an attractive income stream to the parents for their lives, then to their sons for a period of years.  Because they would be making a gift to qualified charities, there is a charitable deduction which would generate substantial tax savings.  They could use this cash flow to purchase life insurance on their lives with a tax-free payout to their sons.

A lack of thoughtful and meaningful estate planning is costly in both monetary and emotional terms.  Yes, it does take time and effort.  It means that we have to think about a time when we will no longer be with those we love and care about.  But if we have been so blessed that we can leave inheritances, then it behooves us to take the necessary steps and do inheritance planning.

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