When should I start planning my estate?

It’s never too early to start planning your estate. In fact, if you have a family or other loved ones who depend on you, you should act as soon as possible to make sure you are prepared to protect them if anything happens to you.

To help you plan for the future, consider the following questions:

Do I make enough money to make estate planning worth it?

“Anyone who has a penny to his or her name, children or might even be coming into money in the future, needs to have the basic estate planning documents,” warned trusts and estates attorney Avi Kestenbaum in a recent interview with Fox Business News.

While estate planning was once all about minimizing taxes while passing money from one generation to the next, it now includes making your money stretch into an increasingly lengthy retirement. It’s important to identity your assets and understand their value in order to pass them down or, if needed, live off of them.

Is it a good idea to discuss my estate planning with friends and family?

While discussing your finances is a personal decision, many experts recommend having the “what if” conversation with loved ones.

“We find that the best transitions and financial transfers happen when all family members are involved in the decision-making,” John Sweeney, executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies at Fidelity Investments, writes for U.S. News. “This way, after a loved one is gone, no one is squabbling over a couch or going, ‘Why did person A get more than person B?’ If wishes are laid out clearly while the individual is living, they can share the rationale behind the decisions.”

Should I add my child(ren) to my bank account or home?

While this may seem like a good idea because of its convenience, adding your child to your accounts can create a lot of problems. For example, in the case of a divorce, if someone is applying for financial aid or if there is a lawsuit, the joint owner must report these assets. Instead, consider giving your child power of attorney, allowing them to make decisions on your behalf.

How often should I review my estate?

It’s important to review your plan regularly and certainly after any major life changes. These include an update in marital status, an addition to your family (birth, adoption, stepchildren) or if there has been a change in your income or value of assets. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants recommends thoroughly revisiting your plans at least once every five years to keep your estate in line with the economy and tax changes.

If you’re ready to plan your estate, a Northwest Trust Services is here to guide you through the process. Contact us today.