By: John Stibbe, Wealth Manager, Fargo, First International Bank & Trust
You may be surprised to hear that estate planning is not just for the wealthy.
- Do I own a home?
- What about a car?
- Life insurance?
- A checking and/or savings account?
You most likely answered yes to more than one of the above and therefore, are the owner of an estate.
The reality is that no matter your net worth, it’s important to have a basic estate plan in place to ensure your estate and financial goals are met and carried out as you wish after you die.
Estate planning involves much more than the distribution of your personal possessions. Instructions for your care if you become disabled, providing for family members with special needs, the transfer of your business at retirement, disability or death and the minimization of taxes, court costs and legal fees are all elements and benefits of estate planning.
Estate planning is an on-going process. So whether you already have a plan in place or are just getting started, here are some things to keep in mind:
1. The difference between a living will and living trust.
A living will and a living trust are both important pieces of estate planning that serve a similar purpose, yet are quite different from each other.
A living will is a legal document that becomes effective if you become incapacitated and are unable to make responsible health-care decisions for yourself. With a living will, you are able to outline in the documents what type of medical services you want to receive or not receive if you are terminal and cannot speak for yourself.
A living trust is a revocable trust that can be used to manage assets during your lifetime as well as at and after your death. It is one of the most flexible tools available in estate planning and provides a tool for people to manage their assets during life, have the trustee continue to manage the assets in the event of incapacity, as well as effectively distribute or manage assets after death.
2. The importance of Power of Attorney.
When you create and sign a durable power of attorney, you are giving another person legal authority to act on your behalf. An important part of power of attorney is designating an agent to carry out your wishes. A family member or trusted friend usually acts as agent, but you can choose anyone.
3. If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you.
If you do not have an estate plan and become incapacitated, the court will have control of how your assets are allocated depending on the laws and regulations of your residing state:
4. Where to seek help.
Professional wealth management advisors are available to help you with your estate planning needs. Our team has expertise in the areas of personal trusts, revocable living trusts, conservatorships, estates and probates, accounts for minors and irrevocable trusts. For questions or help with your estate planning needs, please call 701.298.4100 to set-up an appointment or visit our website to learn more.
5. Plan now and have peace of mind.
Being proactive and creating a plan now can help give you and your family peace of mind. As you adapt to life changing events throughout your life, so too can your will. Keep in mind that changes can be made to your estate plan at any time.
Trust and wealth management products offered by First International Bank & Trust are not FDIC insured.
John has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and specializes in personal trust and investment management. John holds degrees from both North Dakota State University and William Mitchell College of Law.
In his spare time, John enjoys spending time with his family, water sports, snow skiing and Bison football.