Creating a fair inheritance plan is one of the primary goals of many people who come to us for estate planning assistance in the Oklahoma City area. Whether you have siblings, children, friends, or others to whom you wish to leave an inheritance, developing a plan that matches your goals is important. This can take some time to do properly. Today, as a part of our series on understanding estate planning, we will look at what it takes to develop a fair inheritance plan.
Fair Inheritance Plan – What Does “Fair” Mean?
The first step in creating a fair inheritance plan is to determine what you mean when you say “fair.” Does fair mean you want to give equal inheritances to relatives of equal status, such as equal inheritances to all your children?
Does it mean you want to give inheritances based on need? Does it mean you want to give inheritances based on whether you think the recipient deserves it or not?
Only you can answer this question. It’s important that you be clear about what you want to take into consideration when making inheritance decisions. What’s fair for one person may not be fair for another. You need to decide for yourself how you are going to answer this question.
Fair Inheritance Plans – Moving Beyond a Will
Most people, when they consider an inheritance plan, think of their last will and testament. After all, your will is the document through which you make your inheritance choices known, and making sure your will is properly drafted is probably the most important thing you have to do.
However, making sure your will accurately represents your wishes is not the only step in ensuring you leave fair inheritances. This is because not all of your property will pass in accordance with the terms of your last will and testament.
If you own any assets that allow you to name a transfer on death beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy or bank account, even a vehicle, you may choose the name of the person who will inherit the asset upon your death. This is done outside of the terms of your will. Your last will and testament has no effect on who will inherit transfer on death assets. If you fail to take these assets into account when making your inheritance plan, you can create a significant problem.
If you have created a revocable living trust, your trust normally will be the primary vehicle through which you distribute inheritances after you die. A trust has no effect on the assets that pass under your will. Put another way, your trust only controls those assets that you have put into it. A trust may own much of your property, so it is vital to make sure the inheritance decisions in your trust, your will and your transfer or payable on death designations are coordinated.
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to prepare a Fair Inheritance Plan, contact an experienced Oklahoma City estate planning attorney at Parman & Easterday by calling 405-843-6100 to schedule your appointment today.