5 Helpful Tips of Estate Planning so You Don’t Pull Your Hair Out

Nobody enjoys thinking about their mortality, and sorting through legal documents is not what most people would call a good time. This hesitation makes sorting through legal documents about your eventual death seem dangerously stressful and, perhaps, dull.

That is probably why half of us do not have a will of any kind.

Relax. We have got some tips that help take the stress out of preparing for your future.

Keep reading to learn five essential tips of estate planning.

Know Your Worth

The most essential first step of estate planning is doing an inventory of all your assets.

Your total estate worth is so much more than just land you own. Any retirement fund, life insurance plan, Roth IRA, stock investments, collector’s items, and even your debt count as part of your estate.

Keep a detailed account of all your debts and assets in a safe place with the rest of your estate planning documents. Wherever you decide to keep these documents, make sure your family can quickly get to them.

Lawyer Up

The next thing you will need is an estate planning attorney. They will be able to help you navigate things like property taxes and drawing up your will.

Speaking of attorneys… Identify who you want to have power of attorney over you medically and financially.

Okay, so having power of attorney does not make you a lawyer. But whoever you assign power of attorney will be able to make decisions for you if you become unable to make those decisions for yourself for any reason.

Ex: If you are rendered unconscious in an accident, someone needs to be able to give consent for critical medical procedures.

Where There is a Will…

Your living will and last will might be the most important parts of your estate planning.

living will is also called an advance directive. It gives detailed instructions for your medical and financial power of attorney, so they know how to meet your needs best while you are still alive.

Your last will and testament give detailed instructions for what to do immediately following your death.

Plan Your Funeral, So They Do Not Have To

One of the most helpful tips of estate planning is putting money aside for your funeral arrangements in advance.

Do you want to donate your organs to people who need them? Would you prefer to be buried, or cremated?

Spell out your preferences, so your family has less to worry about.

Trust Your Beneficiaries

You get to pass on everything you own to the people you love two different ways:

With a trust; this dictates exactly who gets your property without going through a public court. Your trust determines who gets your car, your house, etc.

The people you name as beneficiaries will inherit the assets you own that are not physical pieces of property; including, bank balances, stocks, investments, etc.

More Tips for Estate Planning

For even more helpful legal information and tips of estate planning, stay tuned for more updates on our blog.

Do not be shy. Ask for a consultation with one of our skilled legal professionals today.

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4 Reasons Why Choosing Beneficiaries is a Good Thing

Having a family is one of life’s greatest joys. There is so much to look forward to — graduation, marriage, grandkids. Of course, these things require a lot of financial planning like 529 savings plans for college, or trust funds.

One thing we hate to think about, however, is how to plan for our loved ones’ financial well-being when we pass on. One of the ways you can make sure that your loved ones are taken care of is to set up beneficiaries for things such as life insurance and your estate.

Want to learn more about choosing beneficiaries? We have got you covered. Read on to learn about the reasons for selecting beneficiaries!

It Gives You More Control

You have control over your financial assets now, why would you not want control over their distribution when you pass on? 

If you pass without having a will or beneficiaries set up, then it is ultimately up to your next of kin to decide how to divide up your assets. In the event that there is a dispute over who should get what, then it will be up to a judge to make that decision.

Choosing beneficiaries now ensures that you are in complete control of your assets.

Choosing Beneficiaries Makes Distribution of Assets Less Stressful

We want to think that our family will be able to divide up assets in a civil manner. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The stress of the loss of a family member and dividing up their assets can do a lot of damage to relationships.

By pre-planning who gets what, your loved ones can avoid the stress and hurt feelings of dividing up your assets. 

Your Beneficiaries Can Avoid a Lengthy Probate Process

Probate is a notoriously long process by which the executor or administrator of the estate manages the assets of the estate to make sure that all assets are collected, debts are paid, and all property is distributed. Probate is more complicated when there is not a will, or an existing will needs verification.

Not all property must go through probate. Most states will allow a certain amount of your estate to get passed on to your loved ones without going through probate first. Life insurance policy payouts can bypass the probate process entirely so long as there are designated beneficiaries.

Peace of Mind

If nothing else, setting up beneficiaries will give you the peace of mind that you have done everything that you can to make sure your loved ones will continue to prosper, even if you pass.

Estate planning may not be a fun thing to think about, but it is still incredibly important if you want your loved ones to enjoy financial stability after you pass on. When it comes to estate planning, it is never too soon to get started.

Ready to Set Up Your Beneficiaries?

Choosing beneficiaries for your estate and insurance is an incredibly important step in planning for your family after you pass on. Not only does it give you control of who gets what portion of your policies and estate, but it also prevents tension among family members.

Ready to start planning for your family and loved ones after you pass on? We can help guide you through the process. Contact us today to see how we can help you!

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3 Tips for a Paying a Low South Carolina Estate Tax

You love your family more than anything, and you want to ensure that they have every opportunity to thrive–even after you are gone.

Life happens in the blink of an eye. You have no way of knowing what will happen tomorrow, but you can take steps to protect your family in the future with your estate. 

Of course, it is not as simple as naming your family members as beneficiaries of your assets. You also have to deal with the South Carolina estate tax.

Here are three tips to help you sidestep the estate tax and ensure that your family gets the maximum benefit. 

Generation-Skipping

Generation-skipping, sometimes done via a generation-skipping trust, is when you transfer a portion of your estate assets to your grandchildren rather than passing the assets to your children. 

Typically, your assets are taxed twice on the way to your grandchildren: first, when they pass from you to your children (second generation), and again when your children later transfer them to their children (third generation). 

Generation-skipping sidesteps the intermediate tax. The downside, of course, is that your children cannot access assets that get designated to your grandchildren (which your children may not be happy about). 

Most people take a moderate approach. They designate as many assets to their children as they think they will need and elect the excess be apportioned to their grandchildren. 

Lifetime Gifts

If you are not entirely comfortable with generation-skipping, you can take a more proactive approach with lifetime gifts to your children and grandchildren.

This is precisely what it sounds like: rather than waiting for your assets to pass when you die, you directly gift part of your assets to your children and grandchildren. 

Every year, a person can make a gift of up to $12,000 without incurring a gift tax. If both you and your spouse give the maximum amount, you can collectively gift away $24,000 per year per recipient. This gift, in turn, reduces your taxable estate. 

It does require you to be comfortable giving away a portion of your assets while you are still alive–or have the financial bandwidth to do so. If you are worried about running out of money, though, this may not be the right choice for you, as it is inordinately difficult to reclaim this money once you have gifted it away.

Put Your Assets in a Trust

Ultimately, the only real way to protect your whole estate against taxes is to put it in a trust, though most people are wary of this option since it signs control of your assets over to someone else. 

First, keep in mind that there are many different types of trusts you can create, and you can designate almost anyone to manage the trust for you, including a family member. 

If you do decide to establish a trust, though, it is essential to work with an estate planner, as there are many rules and exemptions attached to trusts that you may not be aware of. 

Need Help Figuring Out South Carolina Estate Tax?

At Indigo Family Law, we know that family is the only thing that matters. We also know that time flies, especially for busy parents.  That is why we are here to help you figure out the South Carolina estate tax–or whatever else you might need.

If you would like to speak with a lawyer about your options, use our contact page to get in touch.

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