Crafting a comprehensive estate plan can be a daunting undertaking. Numerous documents are involved, and a multitude of contingencies must be stipulated. Faced with these challenging circumstances, people are likely to tackle larger issues such as who gets the house, additional life insurance beneficiaries and powers of attorney. Unfortunately, there are three oft-overlooked factors that should be considered when developing an estate plan.
- Ancillary costs to heirs: While much thought is given to which assets are distributed to which heirs, there are often ancillary costs that individuals forget to account for. For example, if you are shipping artwork or delivering a vehicle, it is wise to account for this cost in the estate plan. Additionally, if you want out of state or international loved ones to attend your funeral or the reading of the will, you can leave instructions that the estate should pay travel costs.
- Familial personal loans: It is not uncommon for money to change hands in any family. When those loans reach into the thousands of dollars, the recipient is often held accountable for that debt. If you wish that debt to be forgiven after your passing, for example, you should leave specific instructions in your will to that end. Otherwise, the outstanding loan might lead to heated debates among family members.
- Sentimental property: Much care will be given to large physical assets such as a home, vehicles or a valuable book collection. There are smaller assets, however, that should also be included. It might be a difficult discussion but finding out if there is any sentimental property in your ownership that should also be addressed can limit future arguments or hurt feelings. A flag given to you at your grandfather’s military funeral, for example, or a paperweight made by your nephew who interned at your company … these assets could represent cherished memories for loved ones. If not addressed in your estate plan, they might be donated or sold at an estate sale rather than given to those who truly prized them.
The primary goal of a comprehensive estate plan is to provide peace of mind. This is accomplished by clearly stating who gets what when with the goal of minimizing confusion and preventing future disagreements between your surviving loved ones. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can account for any type of contingency and ensure your wishes are clearly stated and all-inclusive.