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Investor’s column: Don’t let these roadblocks stop you from forming an estate plan

You’d be hard-pressed to find any family that would rather sit around the table discussing estate plans than going out to eat, enjoying the day outside or doing just about any other activity as a group.

No one likes to think about our inevitable mortality, but we all know that it is just that — inevitable.

Estate planning can be an immense blessing to any family at a time of great loss.

Here are five of the most common emotional blocks family members face when trying to establish a successful estate plan.

Discussing death

Talking about one’s mortality isn’t a fun thing to do, especially in the company of a partner, spouse, children or grandchildren. But the reality is, not discussing it doesn’t keep it from happening.

Instead of trying to sit down and talking about your future death with your family, try to use gentler terms such as “When I’m gone” or “Once you’re on your own.”

Finding other, softer ways to frame it can help you and your loved ones move past the morbidity and on to thinking about the next steps and how to move forward efficiently.

New Tom Breiter.jpg
Tom Breiter is the president of Integra Capital Advisors, a registered investment adviser in Bradenton.

Assessing assets

To craft a successful estate plan, you need to account for every asset. And if you’re well-established and have lived a long life, you’ve likely accumulated quite an estate.

But it can be overwhelming to think about assessing each and every account, property, car, painting, piece of jewelry and more.

So overwhelming, in fact, that you find yourself putting it off altogether.

Work together with your spouse or a loved one to start two lists — financial and physical. As you think of things you own, start jotting them down into their appropriate category.

Once you have a fair amount listed out, you can begin working on the next set of details — breaking down the categories into smaller, more specific subsections, listing out the price or value and thinking about who you would like to have what.

Working with a lawyer

This is one roadblock you may not have realized you had — working with a lawyer.

If you’ve worked with a trusted attorney in the past, this may not be an issue. But for those who are in need of working with a lawyer for the first time, the search can be intimidating, nerve-wracking and confusing.

Estate plans can be complex and you need to make sure you’re drafting one that offers tax benefits for your loved ones and protection over the things you love.

Deciding who gets what

Uncomfortable truths can start to surface when you begin thinking about who should be left with what.

Even happy parents and kids with no family issues need to be realistic about the future — what’s the likelihood the widow will remarry, what happens if a child dies unexpectedly, what if there’s a divorce in the family, etc.

And things can get even harder to discuss for families that might be struggling.

Paying for an estate plan

Establishing a successful estate plan doesn’t come cheap. But if that’s keeping you from pushing forward in creating one, it may help to think of it as establishing a legacy for your family and leaving a gift to your beneficiaries.

Taking the time to work with a professional now can help save your family members from costly tax obligations or other fees associated with dividing up your property.

Discussing an estate plan isn’t easy, but it may be easier to address when you think about what it truly is — the gift of passing on a legacy in a tax-efficient manner to your loved ones.

Take your time working through the emotional roadblocks discussed above and keep moving forward in developing a successful estate plan now to protect your family in the future.

Tom Breiter is the president of Integra Capital Advisors, a registered investment adviser. He can be reached at 941-778-1900 or by e-mail at tom@integracapitaladvisors.com.

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