The Three W’s of Estate Planning

Many people think that estate planning is one of those things that is only for the very wealthy, or something you don’t need to worry about until you are much older. The reality is, however, that since virtually every adult has some degree of an estate (even if they don’t own a home) everyone should have an estate plan. Fortunately, estate planning doesn’t need to be overly complex or expensive. Most people can get a good general understanding of what estate planning is by thinking about the “Three W’s of Estate Planning.”

Who should get your estate

The first W stands for ‘Who,’ and in this step you will need to identify who will get the property in your estate. You can have multiple people listed, each getting a portion of the estate. To put it simply, the ‘who’ will be anyone you want to inherit any portion of your estate when you pass away, or even those who you want to have something given to prior to your passing. This would include people who you want to identify as being able to make decisions (medical or legal) on your behalf should you become unable.

What should they get

The next W stands for ‘What.’ This is the step where you specifically identify what assets you want each person to get, or what responsibilities you want them to have. For example, you may want to have your spouse get the home and all retirement money, a child to get a sentimental item of some sort. Depending on the size of your estate, this could be a large list of things and who they go to, or it could be quite simple with everything going to one person. Keep in mind that you may also have to designate assets to cover debts or other liabilities when you pass. These types of designations would also fall under the ‘What’ category of planning.

When (and How) should they get it

The last—and likely most important and potentially complex—W stands for ‘When.’ This step will determine when individuals will get the assets. For most people, the ‘When’ will most likely be soon after your death, depending on the probate process, but you can also start planning to give some of your assets prior to death in order to make use of tax advantages or other potential benefits. Not only is the timing important, but how assets are distributed is equally as if not more important. A popular option is to put certain assets into a trust for your loved ones once they reach a certain age, or only to be used for certain things. There is a nearly unlimited number of ways in which you can handle the ‘When/How’ of your estate, which is why it is so important to have a plan which is customized to your unique circumstances, needs, and goals.

The importance of taking the time to sit down with an estate planning attorney and going through each of these three ‘W’s’ cannot be overstated. Contact Legacy Planning Law Group today to begin creating and protecting your legacy and your family by discussing the ‘Who,’ ‘What,’ and ‘When’ (and How) of your estate.

Written by Legacy Planning Law Group

Legacy Planning Law Group is dedicated to working with individuals and families to help protect the assets they have built throughout their life, and make everything simpler for families who have lost a loved one. We help thoughtful people achieve the peace of mind that comes with planning their personal legacy and passing on family harmony.