You’ve built a legacy. Now make sure to protect it.
Estate planning 101.
After more than 170 years in the financial industry, we know a little something about preserving a legacy.
If you’re just getting started, we’ve got a 5-step plan to help.
Some basic terms you CAN add to your vocabulary:
Estate: The assets owned by an individual at the time of his or her death.
Will: A document containing an individual's wishes concerning the disposal of his or her property (estate) at death.
Trust: A trust is like a will, but can be written to come into effect in life or death. It spells out the rules that you want followed for assets held in trust for your beneficiaries. Also, know that those assets may be able to pass outside of probate—saving time and court fees, and potentially reducing estate taxes as well.
Beneficiary: Any person or entity designated to receive benefits from life insurance, annuities, or trusts.
Heir: Any person who is deemed eligible to receive part of an estate, whether or not there was a will or trust.
Probate: The process by which the court supervises the transferal of property according to the directions in a will.
Learn more about how the probate period works
Executor: The person or entity appointed to carry out or "execute" the provisions of a will or trust. The executor has a number of responsibilities and bears a degree of legal liability.
If you’ve been named as the executor of someone’s will, here are a few things you should know.
Where life insurance comes in.
Life insurance is most often used to protect against the death of a loved one—and to replace that individual's income. But there are also many other ways to use it. Within the context of estate planning, the benefits of life insurance can extend far beyond basic income replacement:
Debt repayment and funeral expenses.
Life insurance benefits can be used to repay debts and cover funeral expenses that families rarely plan for.
Administration expenses of the estate.
Estate settlements can be long, arduous, and costly processes. Life insurance can be used to cover these costs, so you and your family won't have to shoulder an unexpected, potentially staggering legal bill.
Generating tax-free inheritance.
Life insurance benefits are not typically included in an estate, and are usually exempt from income tax (see below for exceptions). If you want to pass on money tax-free, a life insurance policy could be one way to do that.
Swift access to cash when they’ll need it.
Probate is the legal process of approving a will in court, and it is the first (sometimes lengthy) step in administering the estate of a loved one. While in probate, the assets of an estate are frozen and can’t be disbursed to anyone in the family—a problematic situation if that money is needed. Since life insurance benefits don’t have to go through probate, the money is available more quickly.
Leverage your money into a larger sum.
Did you know you can purchase a life insurance policy for a charity? Once you pass away, the benefits of that policy will go directly to the charity, and are not considered a part of your estate.
Do you know how much money you’ll need to set aside for final expenses?
Talk it through with an expert.
We're here to help.