Whether you’re creating a trust or drafting a will, you must consider the implications of how you estate plan for each asset.
Most estimates show that around 50-60% of Americans don’t have a will. 74% say that estate planning is too confusing. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Why is it so important? Because without proper estate planning, your assets and wealth are at risk.
For example, your assets could pass to unwanted family members if you don’t have a will, due to Florida’s intestacy laws. Or, you might want to have your assets distributed differently.
Probate, for example, is tedious and stressful. But with some estate planning, you can prevent some assets from going through probate – allowing for a quick ownership transition. Or you might want to use a Trust to ensure your grandchildren inherit assets are certain milestones in your life.
Fear not if this sounds complicated. An estate planning attorney can help and guide you through the process to ensure you don’t make the wrong decision.
For now, here are the key assets you should consider when estate planning:
Top Assets to Include in Your Estate Plan
Your existing balance is probably the most important asset to consider. You can include how your funeral expenses, probate costs, and medical bills should be paid in your will.
If you don’t, or can’t, use your bank account for this, then a beneficiary of your retirement account may choose to use those funds instead.
You may also have outstanding debts that affect your bank accounts. If this is true, talk with an estate planning attorney to protect your descendants from the burden of debt after you pass away.
Cash is also an important asset to consider in estate planning, such as checking accounts, money market accounts and savings accounts (if they don’t contain Payable on Death designees).
When you die, what will happen to your home? Do you want it to be passed to a specific family member? Or do you want it to be shared?
This is an especially important thing to consider if you have multiple children, a spouse, an ex-spouse and other close family members.
If you’re still paying a mortgage, you might want to consider how the assets and mortgage will be managed. Do you have enough life insurance to pay off the mortgage? Is the property owned as a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship?
Alternatively, do you want it to hold it in trust? To prevent it from being sold or to ensure your children or grandchildren gain the value of it in the distant future, rather than immediately after your death.
Stocks, bonds and mutual funds outside of retirement accounts are also assets. You need to choose how these will be allocated. Will they be divided among your beneficiaries or allocated specifically?
Any ownership of a business, even a small one, is an asset that should be addressed in estate planning.
Many companies have significant value and assets of their own.
You should consider stating who will inherit your ownership of the business. Doing so can prevent tension amongst your family and business partners, while allowing for a smoother ownership transition.
If you don’t specifically state in your will who should gain the interest in the business, then the business may pass to someone unwanted.
Alternatively, you may want the business to end after your death. In this case, you can state that the business will be dissolved with the value of any sold assets being distributed to your loved ones.
Business ownership planning should always be completed with the support of an estate planning attorney, as you’ll need to check formation documents and ensure no critical mistakes are made.
Cars and Vehicles
Cars are often of significant value and need a quick transition of ownership. You may want to include the car in a trust to avoid probate.
Other Personal Assets
Your personal assets may not be as valuable in monetary terms, but can often mean just as much to survive family members.
Make a list of all you own, from art and guitars to family heirlooms, photographs, your wedding dress and baseball card collection.
Think carefully about how each loved one will feel about your decisions and who will benefit best from each possession.
Pets require a lot of responsibility and financial input. If you’re concerned about their future, you can create a Pet Trust. A Pet Trust allows you to ensure your pet has designated funds for vet bills, food, care and travel. Plus, you can ensure a future owner of choice is selected.
Many people make the mistake of forgetting digital assets in their estate planning. But these days, it’s a critical step. Social media accounts, email accounts, intellectual property, gaming accounts and personal data are just a few examples.
This is a critical step to ensure your online legacy is protected and that loved ones can inherit digital assets that hold value.
Read our guide on How to Plan for Your Digital Assets here.
One in five Americans has invested in crypto. Any digital currency holdings or investments you have should be included in your estate plan. If not, they may go under the radar or simply become inaccessible after your death.
It’s also advised you contact an estate planning attorney if you are looking to protect your cryptocurrency assets via estate planning.
Read our guide on How Do I Include Cryptocurrency in My Estate Planning?
Contact a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you want to estate plan your assets, then our Florida estate planning lawyers can help. Whether you want to create a trust, draft a will or avoid probate, we can help.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced estate planning attorneys, they can help you create a will to avoid complications for your family after your death.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started