Leaving Your Legacy - Estate Planning

What legacy do you want to leave for your family upon your death? While most of us have considered the moral or spiritual legacy we wish to leave for our children, we often neglect to give serious thought to our financial legacy.

Planning for the future of your estate deserves careful consideration of your goals and assets. Before sitting down with your attorney to draft an estate plan, ask yourself the following questions:

How much money do I want to leave my children? The financial resources available to you impacts how your estate plan will be structured.

Will knowing the amount of inheritance discourage my children from seeking their own financial independence? Parents concerned their children will fail to establish productive lives of their own can address these issues in the estate planning process. You can assess whether a child would be better off receiving a large lump sum of money upon your death or whether such monies should be placed in a trust with pre-determined distributions. Deciding on a trust requires that you designate a Trustee responsible for making distributions to your children according to the trust provisions.

How can I provide for a child who needs care for the rest of his or her life? Special needs trusts ensure that a child is properly cared for during his or her lifetime with the help of a guardian designated by you.

What is the best way to avoid issues among members of my "blended family?" You must determine what monies will be left for your current spouse and whether your child's relationship with your current spouse might cause friction upon your death when dealing with your estate.

Each family is different, and only you have the history and experience to evaluate how each child in your family will respond to an inheritance. Along with a qualified estate planning attorney, CPA, and financial advisor, you can determine what structure works best for your family.

A thoughtfully prepared estate plan means your wishes will be respected by those who mean the most to you. Taking the first step and contacting an estate planning attorney will begin your journey to leaving a financial legacy for your children and future generations.