Trust, wills, and beneficiaries. If these words and concepts seem daunting, they needn’t be. In fact, quite the contrary is true. They should help ease your mind. To explore these options and establish a solid estate plan is one way to ensure that whatever you leave behind is what you want.
Two local attorneys were called upon to provide some insight on how easily philanthropy can be incorporated into the planning process. According to Nate Olson, a simple question often gets it started; “Where is it all going to go in the end?” Then, if a client doesn’t have an answer, he often broaches the topic of philanthropy and works with the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation to explore options.
One of the goals for Nate and Julie in the planning process is to keep an estate plan relatively simple. One way to do this is to establish a trust, with yourself as the primary trustee while you are living, and select a secondary trustee, for when you pass. That way, if you choose, you can still benefit from your assets. All of your assets can go into a trust, and from there, upon your death, be distributed as you have indicated. Making sure your beneficiaries are appropriately identified, or establishing a trust, can help avoid the probate process when it comes time to execute your plans. In the ideal situation, Nate suggests getting your team together, including your financial advisor, your accountant, and your attorney to assist you in the planning process and have everyone working on it together.
Both attorneys agree the result of not planning can come at a high cost. For high-net-worth families, federal estate tax liability (at a rate of 40% of the overall net worth) can greatly impact the value of the estate. With proper planning during your lifetime, this tax liability can be avoided altogether through the use of charitable gifts either during life or upon death. It comes down to the very simple choice of leaving part of your wealth and estate to the government or to a charity of your choosing.
Like one of the first questions Nate asks, we invite you to ask yourself, “What will your legacy be?” If there is a cause or charitable program you are passionate about, the time to think about it is now. Advanced planning can give you peace of mind, knowing your affairs are in order. Proper planning will also help minimize confusion and potential conflict regarding the distribution of your assets.