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Financial Education

Tips for Will & Estate Plans

September 17, 2014 | Return to Financial Education

This information comes from CNB Trust & Investment Services

It’s important to review your will and estate plan annually.  At a minimum, a thorough reading of your documents should be done every 5 years.  This will uncover updates that need to be made based on changes in life (i.e. change in debt or net worth,  children grown, new children or grandchildren, changes in charitable desires, etc.). 

Along these lines, have a regular dialogue with your spouse regarding personal property, such as furniture, family heirlooms, paintings, collectibles, antiques, and other items that may not be titled and can be easily sold or moved.  Speak with your children individually to find out what items they may or may not have an interest in after one or both of you have passed away.   Even items with little or no monetary value can cause controversy and may harm relationships, especially if they have deep sentimental value or memories (photos, tapes, films, a parent’s Bible, watch, etc.). 

Hold a family meeting to discuss your wishes and intentions with your children and/or grandchildren, including your values, priorities, and wishes.  If your beliefs and conscience will allow, make your wishes and plans clear regarding charitable giving, beneficiaries, etc.  Be clear on who is to get what.  Ultimately your reasons are your own and may be kept private.  Some feelings or pride may be hurt in the short-term, but it will avoid much greater pain and damage to family relationships later, should several children believe mom or dad wanted “them” to have “this or that” (but gave mixed messages during life or left no direction after they were gone).   

Above all, list or catalogue as many of your personal tangible items as possible.  Include as much information as you can, such as the acquisition date, cost, who may have bequeathed the item to you, a photo, an appraisal and who is to receive the item.

Good planning and communication will mitigate much heartache and wasted time and money for your loved ones after you are gone.