When you start to plan things out like your will, trust funds, and passing on estate matters, personal emotions can get you distracted from the big picture. In order to protect your loved ones after your gone, it’s important to have everything planned out before putting it off to the last minute.

While planning where your estate is going to go, keep these tips in mind, so you don’t make any common mistakes.

  1. Create a plan. The plan you have in your head is different than the one that you’ll be writing on paper. If something happens to you before you have the chance to get it all on paper, your goods will be distributed through inheritance laws. Start writing a simple plan down, so you have an idea to go forth with when you have the extra time.
  2. Seek professional help. There are hundreds of articles you can find online, but they aren’t always accurate information. Give us a call and we will be able to simplify the estate planning process and be sure that you didn’t miss a thing. We are aware when the law changes, any added taxes, and we have experience.
  3. Review your beneficiary designations. No matter how nice and detailed your will might be, your beneficiary designations have the biggest say. If you need to make the appropriate changes, do so before creating your will.
  4. Understand the estate and gift tax. Depending on how large your estate and other gifts that you’re passing down will determine if the receiver needs to pay tax on it. By handing over your estate and big gift items before you die, you are the one in charge of taking care of the tax from the transfer. If you don’t, that extra tax will be taken away from your loved ones after you’re gone.
  5. But take advantage of the gift tax. For any gifts that you offer your family that is under $14,000, you will not have to pay any tax on, and the receiver won’t owe any tax. By slowly giving away smaller gifts that don’t quite add up to that amount, you can successfully give away your belongings without anybody having to pay a tax.
  6. Every situation is different. With any estate planning, your individual circumstances can change anything. This includes the dynamic of your family, your net worth, your financial history, your personal preferences for where your things go, etc. Everything is based around your life.
  7. Take inventory of your assets. Have a list of everything you want to pass on, including any investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, real estate, or business related interests.


When you’re deciding who’s going to get what, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Who do YOU want to inherit your assets and estate?
  • Who do YOU want handling your financial affairs when you’re incapable?
  • Who do YOU want making YOUR medical decisions if you’re at a point where you can’t?

If you live in the Salem County area and are looking for more estate planning help, give us a call at 856.794.8400.