The estate, gift and tax laws have changed quite a bit in recent years. Make sure you know what's different, and how it might affect your current plan.
Identify a person that you trust, who has the time, temperament and knowledge to make decisions about your affairs after your death. And make sure they understand the responsibility you're giving them.
If you have kids, when do you want them to be able to access your assets? Are there any strings you'd like to attach? Is your family set up to manage the tax consequences or understand the liabilities that may be attached to your wealth? Consider how you'd like to include their current or future spouses in your planning, and whether you want to add any protections in case they get divorced.
Who will raise your children if you pass away? What will happen to your wealth if the entire family dies in a common disaster? These are difficult questions, but the consequences of not having answers for them can be serious.
Figure out what your total estate tax liability will be when you pass and ensure that
you've got a plan to cover it — and any other debts that might be left behind — either with cash or through a financing strategy.
Are you currently using insurance to protect your family? Are you aware of any risks that are complicated enough to require specific asset ownership or trust structuring? Protecting your wealth requires a plan that reflects your current circumstances. Your protection plan must be able to change as you add new assets, take on more debt, settle your obligations or experience a change in your personal financial situation.
Determine how you can best donate to the charities you care about in the most tax- efficient and organized manner.
Document where your assets are, what accounts you hold, who your advisors are, and any usernames, passwords or security-question answers your family might need to access your records. Don't forget to include and keep track of things like loan documentation, safe deposit boxes and important documents, such as passports and wills.
Take the time to talk to your children about how you'd like them to use their inheritance, and make sure they understand your hopes and intentions with regard to their lifestyle, education, work ethic and values.
There are sure to be further changes — both in your life, in the laws and in the economy — that may require you to revisit and revise your plan. Keeping an eye on these changes and how they affect your plan is key to ensuring that you'll ultimately realize your goals.
This material is provided for illustrative/educational purposes only. This material is not intended to constitute legal, tax, investment or financial advice. Effort has been made to ensure that the material presented herein is accurate at the time of publication. However, this material is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of the law in any area or of all of the tax, investment or financial options available. The information discussed herein may not be applicable to or appropriate for every investor and should be used only after consultation with professionals who have reviewed your specific situation.
©2016 The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. All rights reserved.