There are many aspects of making a great estate plan. The steps to be taken and the paperwork involved can sometimes be fairly complex. In other situations, it can be quite simple and everyone’s circumstances are unique. Let’s take a look at some of the things that help make a great estate plan.
Create a Will
A great place to start is with a will, as everyone should have one. Be sure to list a personal representative or executor of your estate, name a guardian for your minor children and a list of your personal property with who these items should be left to. Examples would include jewelry, family heirlooms and antiques.
Consider a Trust
It's important to consider a trust. Research the various types and find out which is correct for you and your family. Sometimes you or a family member can serve as the trustee of your trust while other times it is wiser to name a non-family member as the trustee, such as a corporate trustee (bank).
Health Care Directives
Make sure to provide your health care directives such as a living will health care declaration and power of attorney, along with a durable financial power of attorney. Additionally, make sure to review the beneficiaries on ALL of your accounts. Make sure they are up-to-date as this is very important and could overrule what you have listed in your will.
Building Your Team
Most of us don’t have the time, knowledge, or expertise to set up an estate plan by ourselves. With that in mind, you need to utilize a number of professionals that you can trust, and that are knowledgeable about estate planning matters. Identify an estate planning attorney, an accountant, an insurance agent and a financial planner or advisor.
Plan ahead with your final arrangements as it will be much easier on the loved ones you leave behind. Pre-planned funerals are a great option. Make sure your end-of-life wishes are documented such as cremation or burial, do you wish to donate your organs?
Keep yourself organized by putting all of your important papers together in a three-ring binder or folder. Make sure to list the location of items, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes and the keys to them. Also include contact information for your attorney, accountant, banker, insurance agent, financial planner and/or advisor.
Consider holding family meetings to keep your family members informed. Discuss what you are contemplating doing, or what you have already done, with regard to setting up an estate plan and this will facilitate discussion and eliminate any surprises.
Executors, Trustees, & Guardians
Name someone who will handle your affairs according to your wishes, and who is trustworthy and knowledgeable. An advantage of naming a bank’s trust department, is that they are knowledgeable in the area of administering estates and trusts. Another advantage to naming a bank as your Executor and/or Trustee is that the bank will likely be here. Whereas, if you name an individual, he or she could possibly predecease you.
Review, Monitor and Update
You should review your estate plan every three to five years as circumstances change: people pass away, minors become adults. As time goes by, it’s not unusual for clients to decide to change who they’ve named as a guardian for their children, or who they’ve named as their executor, etc. Laws change too. If the law changes, perhaps you will need to change your estate plan as well.
The above is intended to serve as a quick guide to the things that you should consider when putting together an estate plan. For most people, it’s simply a question of taking that first step and getting started. If you partner with the right professionals, and if you take the steps recommended above, I truly believe that you’ll have what is needed to make up a great estate plan!
About First National Bank and Trust Co: First National Bank & Trust Company is a community bank located in Clinton, Illinois. Dedicated to community prosperity, the bank was chartered in 1872 under the name DeWitt County National Bank. The name was changed First National Bank and Trust Company in 1974, and was acquired by TS Banking Group in 2017. With $170 million in assets, First National Bank is dedicated to community reinvestment and gives 10% of its net income back to the community. For more information visit firstnbtc.com.
Matt Riley was named Fiduciary Officer, VP, for First National Bank and Trust Company in January 2019. Riley has four years of experience in risk analysis, serving most recently as a Risk and Compliance Analyst at State Farm Bank in Bloomington, Ill. As a Fiduciary Officer, Riley will manage First National Bank’s trust portfolio while helping clients find new ways to meet their prosperity goals. He will focus on growing the portfolio and working to establish relationships with referral sources.