We hope you enjoyed a great holiday weekend with your family and friends. The summers are invariably a slower time here at Bona Fide Finance where we take some time away to rest and recharge. Taking this time out in the summer allows us to focus on our ‘why’ for doing the work we do; our families and taking care of the people we love. One of the most important aspects of taking care of loved ones is having a sound estate plan. This is one of the things that is most often put off by clients. It’s simple, no one wants to think about end-of-life planning, much less go through the nitty-gritty details of setting everything up. In this newsletter, we’d like to provide you with some resources and insights to assist you in making sure your loved ones are taken care of in case of the unexpected.
Not so much reading as a good resource for getting yourself organized, Mass Mutual provides some useful guides for making sure your ducks are in a row. This PDF guide outlines the different steps you’ll need to take in case of a death of a loved one. Things are organized according to a timeline and key documents that might be needed are listed. There is also a nice Estate Plan Inventory Guide that helps you make sure everything is organized. In our relationship as your financial planner, we can provide assistance in completing these steps and making sure that you’ve shared this information with your loved ones.
If you are interested in a deeper dive around topics of end-of-life planning, we recommend listening to the Complete Estate Planning podcast. This is a great podcast that is well-produced and currently active, diving into all topics around estate planning and trusts (which can plan a crucial role in estate planning). Episodes are generally 20 to 30 minutes long and straightforward in their presentation so you can get the info you need without suffering through too much fluff. Some interesting episodes include, ‘Student Loans After Your Die’ and ‘When Should I Give My Children Their Money?’.
An important concept to understand when thinking about the estate planning process is ‘probate’. This is a legal term referring to the presenting of the last will and testament to a court for its administration and disbursal. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate, you may need legal help in this step and it can take anywhere from a couple of months to years. If going through probate after the loss of a loved one is something you’d like to spare your family from, you may want to look into steps to avoid probate. There are a number of strategies that you can take, some as simple as titling assets in the name of a loved one and others that are more complete like setting up a trust, to pass items outside of probate. Most people agree that taking the time and energy to avoid probate is well worth the upfront trouble. If you’d like to learn more about the probate process and why you may want to avoid it, check out this video from Rabalais Estate Planning.
We hope you’ve found the above information helpful. Estate planning is an incredibly important aspect of any holistic financial plan. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns about your own estate plan.
The Bona Fide Family