As it becomes easier, less expensive and more common to travel and do business overseas, more people are investing in assets in other countries. Maybe you used some of your retirement savings to buy a little beach house in Mexico. Perhaps you bought an investment property in Italy. Maybe you are part owner of a pub that an old friend opened in England.
With people living longer, many elderly Tennesseans use up most of their accumulated savings and wealth during their lifetimes. By the time they pass away, there may not be a significant monetary inheritance for their children and other loved ones. Even people with a vast estate may prefer that most of it go to causes and organizations they feel strongly about. They may believe they've already given their children more than enough advantages to be successful.
The new year is a good time to review your estate plan and determine whether any changes that occurred last year require changes or additions to your documents.
By having a well-thought-out and professionally drafted estate plan, you help ensure that your loved ones and other beneficiaries will inherit your assets as you intend. You also help minimize the time, expense and stress of settling your estate for your family. Further, you can put powers of attorney in place to make sure that people you trust will handle your financial obligations and oversee your health care wishes if you're incapacitated and unable to do these things.
One of the goals that many people have when developing their estate plan is to provide money for the educational needs of their children, grandchildren and possibly even future generations. Often, this is accomplished by setting up one or more educational trusts.
If you have a child or other loved one for whom you're responsible who has a physical and/or mental disability, you likely are concerned about making sure that they receive the care they need if they outlive you. That means making sure that there's money available for that care. Special needs trusts are generally the best way to do that. They can also help protect your loved one's own money as well as government benefits while you're still alive.
If you've begun developing your estate plan, or at least thinking about it, you know that one of the most important decisions you'll need to make is who will be the executor. This is the person who will, as the name implies, "execute" your plan and see that all of your wishes are carried out, in accordance with the law. It's an important responsibility.
Like most things in life, finding out how (or if) you've been included in a loved one's estate plan after they're gone isn't like you've seen on TV or in the movies. It's not a group of family members sitting in a lawyer's office finding out if they're going to be millionaires or if they'll have to drive that 2002 Toyota Corolla for a little longer.
Recently, we discussed the importance of choosing the right administrators for your estate -- the executors and trustees who will help ensure that your wishes are carried out. However, if you have children, the choice of a guardian is probably the most important decision you'll make as you develop your plan.
If you're preparing to put your estate plan in place, you're taking an important step that many people put off until it's too late. You'll have a number of crucial decisions to make as you work with your Tennessee attorney to create your plan.