“As the New Year turns, and with it, thoughts of income tax report preparation and filing, it might be a wise idea to do what many producers also do: spend time developing and honing transition and estate plans for their farm and ranch operations.”
The (Dodge City, KS) High Plains Journal, in “Estate planning is for everyone,” notes that people spend a lifetime working and building an estate to enjoy in their retirement years. Yet, many believe estate planning is only for the rich. This is not true. Putting in the effort now, will help you to avoid the confusion, delay, expense, and stress in your family that might occur if you were to die without an estate plan.
Speak with your family and manage their expectations to keep the lines of communication open. Most estate planning attorneys say that there are six basic steps in the estate planning process:
- Start the discussion. Many families face a lack of communication as their greatest hurdle because family members don’t want to talk about estate planning. Parents may delay a discussion because the thought of growing old and dying is, honestly, not pleasant. Adult children may not want to bring up estate planning to avoid stressing parents and grandparents—and because they don’t want to look greedy. But the subject may come up when a neighbor, friend, or relative dies that may lead a family to having a discussion.
- Take stock. Examine your present financial situation since it’s the foundation of your entire estate plan.
- Develop goals. As you begin your estate plan, think about your objectives. These will vary from family to family due to differences in liabilities and assets, abilities and ages of survivors, the number of children, along with the values that are important to the creator of the estate plan. Your objectives may change with your age, or changes in marital status, income, assets or other factors in your life.
- Use professional advisers. Estate planning is technical and complex. An experienced estate planning attorney can coordinate the work of other team members. Ask questions and make sure that you understand your plan and its implications.
- Consider alternatives and implement the plan. There may be several ways to reach your objectives. Ask your attorney to explain the options. Once the plan has been created, it’s important to implement it.
- Review and modify. Review your estate plan every few years. Tax laws and circumstances change, so it’s important to review and modify your plans with a qualified estate planning attorney when it’s warranted.
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Reference: The (Dodge City, KS) High Plains Journal (January 30, 2017) “Estate planning is for everyone”