The murkiest part of estate planning is discussing when and how to distribute your assets to your heirs. This process requires a series of considerations and trade-offs to avoid emotion-laden family problems… when it comes to these issues, things get gray because emotional factors drive decisions now. There is no correct answer on how to distribute your estate.
A Forbes article, titled “Estate Planning 101: Picking Your Heirs,” provides some very useful instructions on basic estate planning. The article lists a series of questions that can help you organize your thoughts and prioritize your planning.
The questions include:
- How do you feel about charities? Will you leave something now via trust or in your will?
- Will you give each of your children an equal share of your estate, or will you divide it based on some other factors?
- Do you plan to make some gifts or bequests now while you are still around? Are your assets significant enough to think about getting them out of your taxable estate now to reduce your heirs’ estate and gift tax bill?
- What are you going to do with gifts like artwork, jewelry or furniture? Do some of these have sentimental value to particular heirs?
- How do you plan to tell your heirs about your wishes for your estate?
The original article asks several more questions worthy of reading. It also notes that while you may control what and how you give, you are not able to dictate the recipients’ reactions, how they will use those assets, or how they will treat each other.
Answering these tough questions regarding the disposition of your assets can be stressful. Take it slow and get some help. Read through the article and speak to an experienced estate planning attorney.