Dear Financial Planner,
I read an article about estate planning and it says that everyone should have a will. I think I am ready to have one prepared. Some people recommend just going straight to a lawyer, others recommend seeing a financial advisor before meeting with the lawyer. Can you tell me why I would meet with a financial advisor before a lawyer? What can you offer that a lawyer can’t? It also said that part of completing a will is assigning an executor. What does an executor do and how do I pick one?
Congratulations! You are making a responsible choice in preparing a will. Thank – you for your inquiry about estate planning. A lawyer will prepare your will but a financial planner can help you understand what to be aware of when structuring your will. For example:
- Identify assets that could be appropriately transferred outside your will such as joint assets with the right of survivorship, registered investments that are eligible for the spousal rollover, and insurance proceeds.
- Calculate how much liquidity (cash) your estate will need to meet your estate’s liabilities (any outstanding debt you may have), your bequests (inheritance you plan to leave) and pay your final taxes.
- Identify ways to structure your assets to reduce taxes and probate fees upon your death.
- Calculate how much you would need to set aside in trust for your children’s education and cover their care until they are at least 18 years of age.
Having all of this information when you visit your lawyer will ensure you are making informed decisions and your lawyer is fully aware of what must be included for your personal situation.
An executor is the person that you choose to carry out the instructions in your will. It can be a family member, friend, lawyer, trustee, whomever you choose but it should be someone you believe will act in the best interest of the estate to carry out your instructions to the best of their ability, i.e., someone you trust. It is a good idea to consider the complexity of your estate, the skills of the person you are choosing and where they live. Some people choose to appoint an alternate executor in case the original is unable to fill the role.
The executor is responsible for accounting for all of the assets of the estate, paying any outstanding debt, distributing the assets as outlined in the will, and completing the personal and estate income tax returns. He or she is legally obligated to follow the instructions in your will subject to any limitations imposed by law.
I hope this information was useful and if you have any further questions please contact me.
Stay Trusted my friends...