Estate planning extends beyond a last will and testament.
You have heard you need a will.
This advice is accurate for most people.
Listen to it.
According to a recent Forbes article titled “For Estate Plan To Work As Intended, Assets Must Be Properly Titled,” a will accomplishes several estate planning goals.
You can also name guardians for your minor children.
Without a will, a court will decide who gets what and who rears your children.
Nevertheless, as important as a will is, there is actually more to estate planning.
Not all assets pass through a will.
Many pass through beneficiary designations.
These include IRAs, 401(k)s, and life insurance policies.
The beneficiary named on the account will overrule any designation in your will.
Real estate is also transferred by way of its title.
If the property is jointly owned, the title will designate whether the surviving partner, the estate, or a third party will receive your share by rights of survivorship.
If you live in a community property state, the titling could be further complicated.
For states that allow for beneficiary deeds, such can be a simple solution to transfer title directly without probate.
Both Kansas and Missouri are on board with beneficiary deeds, as well as a wide range of assets that may pass by pay on death or transfer on death designations.
If you have a trust, property in the trust will be transferred outside of your will.
A trust can allow you to pass property privately without potentially lengthy probate proceedings.
It can also allow you to ensure greater control and continuity in the management of assets.
If you have a trust, you must "fund" it properly.
How do you do this?
You must transfer or retitle assets to the trust.
Other assets may designate the trust as the primary or contingent beneficiary.
As you can see, a comprehensive estate plan involves more than a will.
Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the necessary steps you need to take to achieve your objectives.
Reference: Forbes (May 20, 2019) “For Estate Plan To Work As Intended, Assets Must Be Properly Titled”