Do You Have An Estate Plan?

One of the most crucial pieces of a sound financial plan, and often the most overlooked piece, is the estate plan. Even though you may not realize, everyone has an estate plan, however some are more organized than others. The two most commonly thought of options are the “will-based plan” and the “trust-based plan” but the most common plan is actually to die “intestate”, or to die without a valid will. Passing “intestate” can be a nightmare for those involved and can be easily avoided with some proper planning. As a Publix associate, you might even be able to have it done so with a reduced cost. 

Dying “intestate” can be one of the most difficult and unpleasant situations you can leave your family or friends in. If you were to pass without a valid estate plan, your estate would be distributed according to the laws of the state you live in, rather than your own wishes. This can pose a variety of issues such as unintended beneficiaries, unsuitable beneficiaries, and conflict between family members that can become bitter and costly. To avoid dying “intestate” a simple will or trust can be utilized to carry out your wishes. 

A “will-based plan” is a type of estate planning strategy that involves creating a will to manage and distribute assets after your death. A will is a legal document that names an executor to manage the process on your behalf. The primary benefit of a will is that it allows you to clearly outline your wishes for how your assets will be distributed after your death. It can provide for minor children and establish guardianship among other things. Additionally, a will is generally simple and straightforward to create resulting in a lower cost. The main drawbacks are that a will does not entirely avoid probate and has less control than “trust-based plan.” 

A “trust-based plan” is an estate planning strategy that involves creating one or more trusts to manage and distribute assets after your passing. A trust is a legal entity that will live on past your death and potentially carry out your wishes for years to come. A trustee is named to manage the trust and you as the “grantor” of the trust put assets into it so that the trust then owns the asset, and you do not. Beneficiaries of the trust will receive benefits from the trust according to the trust document. One of the primary reasons to have a trust is to avoid the probate process. Another important aspect to a trust is privacy. Your assets do not become a public record, potentially shielding your heirs from any unwanted attention. Trusts can distribute assets over time which could be important with providing for younger children, spouses, or beneficiaries with special needs. Unfortunately, because trusts are more complex, they often come with a higher price tag and need to be regularly reviewed for accuracy. 

Everyone’s situation is different and yours can be more complex than you think. Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can be crucial to meet your specific needs and goals, but this is where most individuals shy away. Developing an estate plan can be uncomfortable to think through and have a significant price tag. While it can be uncomfortable to think through your passing, it would oftentimes be more uncomfortable for those who survived you to sort through it and try to determine your wishes. Fortunately for Publix Associates, you might have a way to defer some of the costs. If you are someone who purchases supplemental life insurance through Publix, one of your “Additional Benefits” in the documentation is “Will preparation services.” This could be a free way for you to jumpstart your important estate planning discussion.