Protecting Your Legacy

The best things in life aren't things. Such a simple statement, but it holds so much meaning and intent. We know there is value in our financial assets, but more importantly, there is even greater value in our family treasures like family history, morals, beliefs and heirlooms. These treasured assets are the ones that are most often overlooked in traditional estate planning.

Legacy planning is a more holistic approach to estate planning. It is the creation of a definitive plan for managing your total wealth while you're alive, distributing your estate how you choose after your death, and a clear plan to pass on your legacy. Your estate includes all assets of any value that you own. This includes nonfinancial assets as well as financial assets, including real property, business interests, investments, insurance proceeds, retirement accounts and personal property.

Your legacy also includes important decisions that ensure that your family's core values, responsible behaviors and community involvement are passed onto future generations. Keep in mind, your legacy also includes personal effects such as family heirlooms, stories and accumulated wisdom and life lessons of your family.

Structured IRA And Retirement Planning

At first glance, the concept of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA), 401(k)s and other retirement plans seems simple enough: a structured way to save for your golden years while deferring taxes on your growing nest egg. Unfortunately, that simple idea becomes one of the most complex areas of estate planning once IRS rules are applied.

To ensure that you are protected, an estate planning attorney must consider tax reduction techniques as they apply to your individual situation and interpret complicated income tax rules and IRS regulations. Fortunately, at The Elder and Disability Law Firm, APC, our estate planning attorneys immerse themselves daily in the questions and concerns that IRA investors face in planning their estates.

Steps To Begin Planning

As you take steps to organize your affairs, decisions must be made concerning which family members are intended to benefit from the estate plan, which includes your IRA and other retirement assets. Each choice you make may have important tax consequences. Consider these steps as you start to plan:

1. Survey your assets: Such as investments, savings, retirement plans, real estate, life insurance, annuities, businesses, other personal assets, etc.

2. List key contacts/relationships: Such as your estate planning attorney, financial adviser and CPA to use for yourself and your family

3. Organize important papers: Will, trust, deeds, beneficiary designations, life insurance policies and account statements

4. Estimate what you'll need: To ensure financial security during your lifetime

5. Define your goals: Such as providing for your spouse, children, grandchildren, charitable donations, etc.

6. Get professional guidance: From an estate planning attorney, financial adviser and CPA

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