When It Comes to Estate Planning, Sometimes It’s The Little Things That Make A Big Difference
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” Hall of Fame basketball coach John Wooden knew a thing or two about success and exceeding goals like few others ever have. The former UCLA basketball coaching legend knew that in order to achieve the lofty goals he and his players set forth, they needed to win in practice and be better than the competition at the little things. In a twelve-year stretch, his Bruins won ten national championships – an unprecedented mark that has never been and likely never will be challenged.
It is often paying attention to these little things along the way that puts us in a spot to achieve our long-term goals. While we don’t propose that practicing the perfect rebound or mastering how to break a full court press will help achieve your financial goals, there are details to consider that matter tremendously in the end.
We encourage all our clients to articulate their estate planning desires and wealth transfer wishes regularly. Wills, Powers of Attorney, Healthcare Directives, and Trust Planning (as needed) are all vitally important. Something that cannot be stressed enough is this two-step process:
1. Having these documents drawn up.
2. Implementing them by making sure all of your accounts and other assets are titled properly and that all beneficiary directives are up to date and relevant.
Most people have beneficiaries in place on their retirement accounts, both 401k and IRAs, because typically it is a requirement up front. Conversely, most clients do not think to ensure that they are titling their non-retirement accounts and other assets properly to avoid probate and directly achieve their desires after they are gone. Titling non-retirement accounts jointly or adding a Transfer on Death (TOD) designation can avoid unnecessary time, frustration, and money. Likewise, ensuring that the beneficiary designations you chose long ago when setting up your retirement accounts are still in line with your wishes is paramount. For those who have experienced marriages, divorces, children growing into adults, and any other situation that changes the dynamic of your life; this small detail often causes huge, avoidable headaches.
A broader estate planning conversation is vital but addressing these two smaller topics will go a long way towards shoring up your plans. For more detail, we recommend this informative article published by Jack Cintorino, one of Janney’s Senior Financial and Estate Planners, “Why Proper Account Titling is Vital for Your Estate Plan.”
Having your accounts titled properly and your beneficiaries up to date are essential to ensuring that your wealth is transferred in the most straightforward, tax-efficient way possible. Consider those details the hours in the gym that ultimately bring home the trophy.