How many of you had the birds and the bees discussion? If it was you, you may remember the uncomfortable feeling as your mother or father was telling you about the dos and don’ts of that curious and confusing time in life.
Maybe it is time to reverse the scales and have the uncomfortable conversation with mom or dad on something important to everyone. Estate planning.
Let’s define this:
Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging, while a person is alive, for the management and disposal of that person’s estate before that person dies or becomes incapacitated. The planning includes the bequest of assets to heirs and often includes the minimizing of gift taxes, estate taxes, generation skipping taxes, and inherited income taxes. And of course, let’s not forget probate.
Okay, now that I have made a scary paragraph, out of what started with a gentle conversation, let’s stop to talk about what is important here. Estate planning starts with “The Conversation”. Where do you start:
- Is there a wish list…By this, I usually mean a Will or a Trust. The best and most legally binding directions will involve these simple legal documents. However, a list of directions including final resting place, ceremony wishes, and direction(s) of specific personal assets will make this process easier.
- Are there any assets (life insurance, bank accounts, IRAs, or other investments)…..We work with our clients to establish an Estate Planning book to make sure this is easier to identify when the time comes. However, a good list of where everything is and who should be contacted would be a good place to begin.
- Are ownership and beneficiary transfers accurate and current…Often when working with clients, we identify beneficiaries that have already passed; or even no beneficiary or ownership transfer at all. This could lead to an unnecessary Probate tax expense and a much longer end of life transfer of wealth.
- How about scheduling a joint meeting with Mom or Dad at the Financial Advisor…I know this may sound awkward, but no different than in the points of time where another person needed to know about your medical history, or your report card for that matter. Eventually, you may be needed to be there to return the favor for your parents with their medical visits.
Seems like I oversimplified it right? The fact is, this is a conversation that may take more than one sit down, not just the Father’s Day weekend. You see, when they are gone, you may likely get the responsibility to understand all that I have mentioned above, and the frustration of 100 other points that I haven’t mentioned. The more you know now; the easier this part of that loss will be.
Besides, it probably was just as uncomfortable for mom and dad to have the birds and bees discussion with you. It was important for them to have that sit down with you….take time to have this sit down with them. Let us know if we can help.
Happy Father’s Day to all fathers!