Difficult estate planning decisions
Written by Michelle N. Ogborne

Top 5 Most Difficult Estate Planning Decisions

Estate planning is what responsible adults do. It has nothing to do with whether you’re wealthy or not; whether you’re childless or not.

As you create your estate plan, consider whether you want to maintain the right of
survivorship feature or want to change the beneficiary designation on your life
insurance policy and retirement accounts.

Estate Planning Decisions: Sooner is Better

Estate planning decisions are simple, tough, emotional, important choices you will make now for peace of mind later. The advantages of estate planning decisions are:

  • You name the people to whom you wish to give your assets and your wishes will be legally binding.
  • You can arrange it so that taxes take as little as possible from your estate.

Have the satisfaction of knowing that your financial affairs are in order, so you won’t leave a costly administrative nightmare to your loved ones.

1. Financial Management

In Arizona, surviving spouses don’t have to pay inheritance taxes. So if one of your estate planning decisions is to leave your assets to your spouse, you can leave an unlimited amount of tax-free money. When someone dies in Arizona with a less-than a $5,450,000 estate, there are no federal taxes as well. Otherwise, your estate will owe taxes if its value (real estate, life insurance, retirement accounts, investments) exceeds $5,450,000.

2. Inheritance

When you meet with your attorney to make estate planning decisions, she’ll ask you to make a brief list of your assets including:

  • Business interests – If you are the owner/partner of a business, see if you have a provision for transferring your business interests after death. It might be a good time to add that information to your company’s operating documents.
  • Intellectual property –  Your creative works (copyrighted books, art) are assets.
  • Personal property – Your personal property is not real estate. It is books, clothing, computers, electronics (cell phones, television) furniture, guns, jewelry, etc.
  • Real estate – Real estate includes your primary residence, second/vacation homes, and land (including cemetery plots).

3. Medical Decision-Maker

A living will address two estate planning decisions and questions if you are unable to communicate:

  1. What are my wishes regarding medical treatment and life support?
  2. Who will ensure my wishes are respected?

If you are in an end-stage medical condition without a living will, your medical decision-maker may be (in order of natural choice):

  1. Current spouse and adult children from prior marriages
  2. Adult children
  3. Parents
  4. Adult siblings
  5. Adult grandchildren
  6. Close friends

But it may be the doctors who make the decisions or your family who goes to the court and asks a Judge to decide who gets to make the decisions on your behalf.

4. Permanent Guardian(s)

If death or disability occurs, will your children be cared for by someone you trust? Hopefully, your children’s other parent is an active part of your family lifestyle. If not, choosing a permanent guardian as part of your estate planning decisions is critical. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, even close family friends may be the persons to name as guardians when planning your estate.

5. Temporary Guardianship

One of your estate planning decisions is temporary guardianship. If you had a medical emergency, could your childcare provider or nanny make good decisions for your children? The document you should have – while your children are still minors – is a guardianship nomination naming someone who can care for your children until you are able.

Estate Planning Decisions: Just Do It

Actually, the most difficult of all estate planning decisions is taking that first step. You need an experienced Arizona estate planning attorney that understands the dynamics of your family. Ogborne Law can help you make those tough decisions for yourself so that your loved ones won’t have to. To learn more about finding an estate planning attorney, contact Ogborne Law, PLC. This might be one of the best decisions you make!