Do you have an estate? It doesn’t matter how limited (or unlimited) your
means may be, and it doesn’t matter if you own a mansion or a motor home. Rich
or poor, when you die, you leave behind an estate. For some, this can mean real
property, cash, an investment portfolio and more. For others, it could be as
straightforward as the $10 bill in their wallet and the clothes on their back.
Either way, what you leave behind when you die is considered to be your
If the estate is small, should you still plan? Well, even if you’re just leaving
behind the $10 bill in your wallet, who will inherit it? Do you have a spouse?
Children? Is it theirs? Should it go to just one of them, or be split between
them? If you don’t decide, you could potentially be leaving behind a legacy of
legal headaches to your survivors. This, quite simply, is what estate planning
is all about – deciding how what you have now (money and assets) will be
distributed after your lifetime.
Do you HAVE to create an estate plan? While it is absolutely possible to die
without planning your estate, I wouldn’t say it is advisable. If you die without
an estate plan, your family could face major legal issues and (possibly) bitter
disputes. So in my opinion, everyone should do some form of estate planning.
Your estate plan could include wills and trusts, life insurance, disability
insurance, a living will, a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, long-term care
insurance, power of attorney and more.
Why not just a will? Did you know that your heirs could encounter legal hassles
… even if you have a will? Basically, a will tells the world what you’d like to
have happen, but proper estate planning is what provides the tools to make those
things happen. While your will may state who your beneficiaries are, those
beneficiaries may still have to seek a court order to have assets transfer from
your name to theirs, and in such a case, those assets won’t lawfully belong to
them until the court procedure (known as probate) concludes. Estate planning can
include items like properly prepared and funded trusts, which could help your
heirs to avoid probate.
Where do you begin? I would advise you to speak with a qualified legal or
financial professional – one with experience in estate planning. A financial
advisor can refer you to a good estate planning attorney and a qualified tax
professional, and lead a team effort to assist you in drafting your legal
These are the views of Peter Montoya Inc., not the named
Representative nor Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment
advice. Neither the named Representative nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal
advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we
make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not
engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other
expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a
competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further