Leaving an inheritance for those you love is the easy part. Any possessions that outlive you become the inheritance of another without question. In fact, the laws of every state provide for the “intestate succession” of assets for which there are zero post-mortem plans in place.
Then again, that is not the kind of potential mess we want to leave behind (or how we want to be remembered). As the old adage puts it, most folks do not “plan to fail, they just fail to plan.” In this sense, leaving an inheritance behind can get a bit tricky and can take some expert guidance to do it well.
This business of leaving an inheritance was taken up by Forbes recently in an article titled “How To Inherit Wealth Without Screwing Up.” (Incidentally, it is hard to inherit wealth without screwing it up, but this article has far more to do with the wrong ways we leave our wealth to those we love that subsequently allows them to ‘screw it up’ than the title suggests).
When it comes to inheritance planning, there's a Will, of course, but the way is the estate plan. For all the drama (both literary and real) surrounding 'the Will', it truly has but one function and that is to assist the probate process; it has nothing to do with the how, when or any other what if most of us are confronted with at some point in our lifes. Nor has it any control over those retirement accounts that have a named beneficiary, bank accounts that transfer on death or assets held jointly with rights of survivorship, not to mention insurance policies and a host of other sources of legal and fiduciary clutter. An estate plan is the concept that pulls everything together and considers your life, your assets and your family in a holistic way.
The key point of the article is that leaving an inheritance requires understanding and an appreciation the big picture. If one is to create a plan that works for the good of your family, it helps to have competent legal counsel in your corner. After all, it's only fair that I offer you some good advice this Friday the 13th.
You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning
Reference: Forbes (November 22, 2013) “How To Inherit Wealth Without Screwing Up”