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Leaving a Legacy – Planning Your Estate or Inheritance

Many people don't take the time to think about estate planning because they think it's only for the wealthy or those living in retirement. But thinking about estate strategies is important for just about everyone – to ensure not only that your assets are handled properly, but also that you and your loved ones are cared for as you wish – should you be unable to make such decisions.

The following list of questions will take you through estate-planning considerations, and it will help you prepare for a discussion with your financial advisor. Note: While Edward Jones cannot provide estate-planning advice, it is helpful for us to understand how your current situation and estate goals may affect your investment strategy.

Beneficiary designations

  • When was the last time you reviewed your beneficiary designations?

    • Beneficiary designations are a critical part of a comprehensive estate plan unique to your situation. There's no "one size fits all" guideline for naming beneficiaries, and you need to take into consideration things like: taxes, age of beneficiaries, multiple marriages, special needs children, etc.
    • Even if you have a will or trust, your beneficiary designations are an important part of your overall plan. It’s important to review your beneficiary designations regularly, particularly when your life circumstances change, such as a marriage, a divorce, the birth of a child or the death of a spouse. If you don’t update your account beneficiaries, your assets could be inherited by someone you no longer intend.

Asset transfer plan and trusts

  • Do you have a will or trust?

    • A last will and testament can help your assets pass in the manner that you would prefer them to transfer.
    • A trust might be right for your situation if you're concerned about: avoiding probate, controlling the transfer of assets to heirs, leaving assets to spendthrift children, protecting assets during incapacitation or eventually needing assistance with money management and paying bills.
  • Have you shared your current transfer plan with your beneficiaries?

    • If you haven't already had conversations with your beneficiaries, there's no better time than the present. The discussion will help inform your beneficiaries when it comes to matters related to your finances and health – and how you want things handled upon your death or if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The more family members know about your preferences, generally the more comfortable they'll feel that they're making the right decisions for you down the road, if necessary.

Guardianship considerations

  • Do you have minor dependents?
  • Have you named a guardian in your will for your dependents?

    • It can be important to name guardians for minor children or dependents. This information can be contained in a will so the court and your family members know who you would like to step into this role, should you pass away.
  • Have you provided for minor dependents in your asset transfer plan?

Incapacity protection (financial and health care)

  • Do you have a Durable Power of Attorney for Property?

    • A Durable Power of Attorney for Property can be an important document that generally allows you to name someone to make financial decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated.
  • Do you have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, Representation Agreement or Directive?

    • A health and personal care Power of Attorney, which is called a Power of Attorney for Personal Care, Representation Agreement, or Directive depending on the province, ensures that the person you want to make health care decisions for you is the person who has the legal authority to do so.
    • Your Attorney for Property will generally follow any instructions you have provided regarding specific medical treatment. These instructions are often contained in a Living Will. Note: There can be limitations to living wills.

Charitable intent

    • Do you intend to leave assets to charity?
    • Do you have a plan outlining your contribution strategy?
    • Would you like to have control over how assets are used by the charity?

How we can help

Sometimes it takes going through a difficult situation to realize the importance of being prepared. If you don't already have an estate strategy in place, your financial advisor can help walk you through the process of prioritizing your goals and work to coordinate your team of tax and legal professionals to help ensure your goals are met.

Important Information:

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.

*Trust and related services are provided by Edward Jones Trust Company, an affiliate of Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. (Edward Jones), a dually registered broker-dealer and investment advisor. Edward Jones Trust Company and Edward Jones are subsidiaries of the Jones Financial Companies, L.L.L.P. Edward Jones Trust Company may use Edward Jones or other affiliates to act as a broker-dealer for transactions or for other services. Payments of such services may be charged as an expense to the trust and will not reduce the amount of fees payable to Edward Jones Trust Company.

More Resources:

Should I consider setting up a trust?

Trusts can provide benefits, like control, incapacity protection, potential probate avoidance and tax planning opportunities.

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