Follow the Money – Create a Treasure Map

You know how “X marks the spot” on a treasure map – so that the treasure can be found? Well, you need to have your own treasure map to your assets. The people who will deal with and benefit from your estate need to know what is in your estate so they can “follow the money”.

Not too long ago it was common for the paperwork left behind – whether or not organized – to be the “treasure map” of the assets that a person owned. With so much handled online, however, a search of paperwork is not likely to show the full extent of a person’s assets. It is more important than ever to make sure that you are not making the following mistakes:

Not updating beneficiary designations

Oftentimes, people forget to change their beneficiary designations to match their estate planning desires. For example, if you named your now ex-spouse as the beneficiary of an IRA or life insurance policy while married to your ex, and you don’t change it, your ex is generally entitled to receive the funds.

Check with your life insurance company and retirement-account holders to find out who you have named as beneficiaries and would receive those assets in the event of your death.

If you have a trust, you may want the trust to be the beneficiary. This does not happen automatically upon creating a trust. You must make the change. See the section below for more on funding your trust.

And you never want to name a minor as a beneficiary of your life insurance or retirement accounts, even as the secondary beneficiary. If a minor is the beneficiary, the assets become subject to control of the court until he or she turns 18 and are then distributed to the child.

Not funding your trust

Many people assume that simply listing assets in a trust is enough to ensure they’ll be distributed properly. But this isn’t true. Some assets—real estate, bank accounts, securities, brokerage accounts—must be “funded” to the trust in order for them to be actually transferred without having to go through court. Funding involves changing the name on the title of the property or account to list the trust as the owner.

When you create a trust with us, we are available to help you fund your trust. In addition, when you acquire new assets after your trust is created, you must make sure those assets are also titled into your trust. We help you make sure your assets are inventoried and titled properly. We can help maintain your inventory throughout your lifetime, so your assets aren’t lost and do not get stuck in court upon your incapacity or death.

Not leaving an inventory of assets

Even if you’ve properly “funded” your assets into your trust, your estate plan won’t be worth much if heirs can’t find your assets. Indeed, there’s more than $58 billion dollars’ worth of lost assets in the U.S. coffers right now. Can you believe that? And it happens because someone dies or becomes incapacitated, but their assets cannot be found.

That’s why we create a detailed inventory of assets, indicating each asset, such as your cemetery plot deed, bank and credit statements, mortgages, securities documents, and safe deposit box. And don’t forget digital assets like social media accounts and cryptocurrency, along with their passwords and security keys. We cover all of this in our plans.

Beyond these common errors, there are many additional pitfalls that can impact your estate planning. We’ll guide you through the process, helping you to not only avoid mistakes, but also implement strategies to ensure your true Family Wealth and legacy will continue to grow long after you’re gone. You can begin by contacting us or by scheduling a Family Wealth Planning Session online.

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