It’s a simple question but doesn’t necessarily have a simple answer: When you are no longer around to enjoy your wealth, who should inherit it? There are several possibilities. Immediate family, extended family, close friends, and charitable causes are all popular options, but depending on your individual circumstances, your ultimate decision may or may not be so popular with those who are close to you.
This, unfortunately, is a very real concern. Whether a family member believes they deserve an equal share or more than everyone else, no matter what you do, there is a chance that someone (if not multiple people) will be left wanting more. If your estate plan is not air-tight, this could eventually lead to litigation. Not only that, but if the court decides that your estate plan needs to be completed, clear or unenforceable for any reason, then your wealth may not be distributed in accordance with your final wishes.
Making Informed Decisions During the Estate Planning Process
This brings us back to our original question: Who should inherit your wealth?
Ultimately, any concerns about litigation should not influence your decision-making during the estate planning process. While they may cause you to take additional precautions, they should not stop you from distributing your wealth as you desire. Generally speaking, the law gives people the flexibility to distribute their wealth as they wish, and a comprehensive and well-drafted estate plan should allow for swift execution while leaving no room for interpretation.
Options for Achieving Your Personal Estate Planning Goals
If you want to keep things simple, that’s fine—and it’s the route many people choose. For example, one of the most common approaches to estate planning involves leaving everything to the planner’s spouse initially, with equal portions going to the planner’s children should their spouse be deceased. However, if you have more complex or more ambitious estate planning goals, you should not be deterred from pursuing these as well. For example, other common estate planning goals include:
- Making larger gifts or bequests to children or relatives who have greater financial needs
- Designating certain assets for certain family members
- Leaving money, securities, or personal property to close friends
- Donating wealth to charity
- Starting a family foundation or charitable trust
- Providing for a beloved pet’s future needs
Again, these are just examples. There are numerous options when it comes to estate planning, wealth distribution, and wealth preservation—and you can (and should) take the time to craft an estate plan that works for you thoughtfully. Ultimately, this is what matters most. With a sound estate plan in place, you can focus on enjoying what you have without worrying about what the future may hold for those you love and care about the most.
Do you have questions about estate planning or wealth management? If so, we invite you to get in touch. Give us a call at 419-464-7000 or contact us online to arrange a confidential consultation.