How to Do a Will Properly for Wealthy Investors – PillarWM
Passing on your wealth to your children or beneficiaries can be a complicated process that requires plenty of pre-planning. Wealthy investors with $5 million to $500 million in liquid investment assets can learn how to do a will with the help of Pillar Wealth Management. Our wealth managers offer will-creation services as part of estate planning. You can learn about some of our wealth protection strategies in our guide for investors with $10 million or more.
STRATEGIES FOR FAMILIES WORTH $5 MILLION TO $500 MILLION
7 Secrets To High Net Worth Investment Management, Estate, Tax and Financial Planning
The insights you’ll discover from our published book will help you integrate a variety of wealth management tools with financial planning, providing guidance for your future security alongside complex financial strategies, so your human and financial capital will both flourish.
Clients frequently share with us how the knowledge gained from this book helped provide them tremendous clarity, shattering industry-pitched ideologies, while offering insight and direction in making such important financial decisions.
Table of Contents
- What is Estate Planning?
- Will Creation
- How to Do a Will
- Why You Should Have a Will
- A Written, Witnessed Will Is Best
- What Does a Will Cost?
- What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
- How To Prepare and Validate Your Will
- Where To Keep a Will
- How To Change a Will
- What Should Not Be on a Will?
- Does a Will Cover Real Estate?
- When Should Estate Planning Be Performed?
- What is the Cost of Setting Up an Estate?
- Why Choose a Wealth Manager for Estate Planning?
What is Estate Planning?
Every wealthy person needs to plan for their eventual passing at some point. This is where estate planning comes in. Estate planning refers to a collection of services related to the distribution of your assets following your passing. Please set up an appointment with our wealth managers to learn more about our estate planning services.
This includes tasks such as:
– Will creation
– Setting up a trust
– Naming beneficiaries
– Choosing an executor
– Planning funeral arrangements
Each of these tasks is incredibly important to plan for prior to your passing. Let’s look at each one in more detail.
A will is a type of legal document stating how you wish your affairs to be handled following your passing. This document will mention your beneficiaries, your assets, your executor, and any guardians you want to appoint.
We will look at the various steps for creating a will later in this guide.
1. Setting Up a Trust
You can think of a trust as a special way to hold and manage your assets. It’s common for wealthy investors to incorporate a “living trust” into their estate plan. Such trusts are typically set up while the grantor is still alive.
Trusts are typically incorporated into estate plans because they help save time and money during the probate process, which is authenticating and verifying the will. They also help protect your wishes if your will is challenged. We discuss the importance of estate planning in our book The Art of Protecting Ultra-High Net Worth Portfolios and Estates – Strategies For Families Worth $25 Million To $500 Million.
Living trusts are also completely private, which means nobody can access the information it contains without you knowing.
2. Naming Beneficiaries
A beneficiary is someone that has been named in your will and has been chosen to receive your assets. You can choose your spouse, children, siblings, or relatives as beneficiaries. It is also possible to offer each beneficiary a different cut or percentage of your wealth depending on your relationship with them.
Naming beneficiaries is vital because it reduces the likelihood of conflict breaking out between your children or dependants following your passing. Once each party knows how much you intended them to receive, they will accept it more.
3. Choosing an Executor
It is also vital to choose an executor during the estate planning process. In this context, the term “executor” refers to the individual who will administer your estate following your passing. This could be a lawyer, your accountant, a family member, or even a financial advisor. We discuss some tips for choosing a financial advisor in our special guide.
To be eligible as an executor, an individual must be over the age of 18 and should not have any prior felony convictions.
4. Planning Funeral Arrangements
Many wealthy investors plan funeral arrangements in their estate plan. This saves their family from funeral costs and unneeded stress during the grieving process following their passing. These plans can include:
– Naming where your funeral ceremony will be held.
– Naming who should attend the ceremony.
– Naming pallbearers.
– Naming where you wish to be buried.
How to Do a Will
You may be wondering how to do a will the right way. At Pillar Wealth Management, we recommend using the following steps:
1. Choose the Will Type
There are many different types of wills to choose from. This includes:
- Simple or statutory will: This will type is best for simple estates that will be easy to distribute.
- Conditional will: These wills are valid only if certain conditions are met.
- Pour-over will: This will type is useful if you want to name your trust as your main beneficiary.
- Living will: This will includes instructions regarding what happens if you are incapacitated and cannot communicate.
We will go over the steps for setting up a simple or statutory will in this guide.
2. Start Planning
Once you have chosen your preferred will type, you should start planning what it will include. A wealth manager can help guide you during each step of this planning process. Please set up a free appointment with our wealth managers to learn more about the estate planning process.
Some of the things to ponder over are:
– Who your beneficiaries should be.
– Who the estate plan’s executor will be.
– Whether or not you would like your children to be looked after by a guardian.
3. Choose Your Beneficiaries
This is the most important step of the will-writing process. Choosing your beneficiaries can be a straightforward matter if you have a small family. However, it is important to decide exactly how much each beneficiary should receive.
Most investors give each of their children an equal share of their wealth. However, you can also choose to distribute an uneven split depending on your personal preferences.
You should note that you can also assign charities or non-profits as beneficiaries. This option is excellent for investors who engaged in philanthropy during their lifetime and wished to continue this practice following their passing.
4. Choose Your Will’s Executor
As mentioned earlier, you can choose a professional or family member to administer your will. However, we recommend choosing one of our wealth managers as your executor. This is a useful option as the wealth manager would have already helped you create your will and thoroughly understand the probate process.
5. Select a Guardian for Our Children
Selecting the right guardian for your children is an essential step in the will creation process. If your children are under 18 when you pass away, the courts will choose a guardian for them. Mentioning a guardian in your will ensures your children are looked after by someone you trust.
You should always seek the permission of an individual before appointing them as a guardian. This will ensure they are up to the task if and when the need arises.
6. Sign the Will
The next step is to sign the will in front of witnesses. This step is crucial, as a written will won’t be considered valid unless it has been signed and dated accurately in the presence of two witnesses. It is important to note that these witnesses cannot be individuals who are set to inherit your wealth.
7. Store Your Will Safely
The final step is to store your will safely. This could be a secure drawer in your home or a safety deposit box.
It is essential to keep this physical copy of your will safe, as courts may not accept digital or “electronic” copies of your will.
8. Be Specific About Who Gets What
This is a critical task in preparing a will. Consider each asset you own and who would benefit most from receiving it. Someone may need cash more than luxury goods, for example. Take into account the personalities of your close friends and loved ones and the financial situations they are in or are likely to face in the future, when receiving a bequest from you will be more meaningful.
9. Be Realistic About Who Gets What
Deciding how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries is not easy. Be sensitive to how they may feel, but at the same time, know that although you care about how others feel, you can’t please everyone. Still, it’s better to try to make bequests that are appropriate to each individual than to say, “You all divide these assets among yourselves,” which can often lead to disputes and bitterness.
10. Attach a Letter to Your Will
Those who are left behind when you’re gone would probably appreciate having a personal letter from you, which includes your reflections on your life and relationships with those closest to you.
11. Keep Your Will Up-to-Date
Don’t forget to update your will when your financial situation changes or there are changes in the financial affairs of the beneficiaries. Review your will whenever someone is added to or leaves the family.
12. Other Estate Planning Documents
Consider writing a living will.
You may want to assign a power of attorney to a third party, who can make decisions for you.
Having a trust may be useful for managing your assets as the trustee will ensure your wishes are followed.
Why You Should Have a Will
Having a will ensures that your assets will be distributed equitably and according to your wishes. A will not only identifies the beneficiaries but also excludes anyone who is not a beneficiary. With a will, your assets are distributed more quickly. You can also select a guardian for your minor children.
A Written, Witnessed Will Is Best
It’s best to have your will prepared by an estates attorney to ensure the will abides by relevant laws. The will should include an executor, the person you select to execute the will. Once the document is prepared, sign it in front of witnesses.
What Does a Will Cost?
The cost of preparing a will depends on where you live. It’s more expensive in New York than in Charlotte, but the cost should not be prohibitive. It could be between $200 and $1,000.
What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?
If you don’t have a will, your estate will be distributed according to state law. Typically, your property will be divided among your closest relatives — your spouse, children, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and so on. If you have no living relatives, the estate is placed in a fund that may be claimed by a distant relative who becomes aware that you have passed away.
How To Prepare and Validate Your Will
You can hire an attorney to prepare your will. You can also write the will yourself, using an online guide. You then need to have the will signed by two adult witnesses, and in some cases, have it notarized. Always consult the rules in your home state during this process.
Where To Keep a Will
You should keep your will in a place that is protected from water, fire, and smoke and protected from theft. You can keep your will in a safe deposit box at your bank, but be sure that the executor knows where the will is and how to access it.
How To Change a Will
You can change your will by writing a new one, or you can make an addition that describes the change you want to make. Then, go through the witnessing process again.
What Should Not Be on a Will?
Your will should contain detailed information about your wishes following your passing. However, you may be wondering what should you never put in your will. Some things to avoid putting in your will are:
– Assets that have named beneficiaries.
– Jointly-owned properties.
– Provisions for pets.
You should think carefully before including any items in your will. Please set up a free appointment with our wealth managers to learn what you can and cannot include in your will.
Does a Will Cover Real Estate?
Many investors built up their wealth by buying and selling real estate. If you have come to own multiple properties, you may be wondering, “does a will cover real estate?”. The answer is yes. You can include physical property such as real estate, buildings, or even land in your will.
You should keep in mind that any property that is owned equally by two parties cannot be included in your will.
When Should Estate Planning Be Performed?
Estate planning is a task that should be performed as soon as possible. After all, it is impossible to tell when a life-changing or life-ending event may occur. Without a sufficient estate plan in place, there is no guarantee that your children and beneficiaries will receive the assets you intended for them to receive.
What is the Cost of Setting Up an Estate?
Before starting the will-creation process, you might ask yourself, “how much does it cost to set up an estate?” You can create your will for as little as $200. However, if you are a high net worth or an ultra-high net worth individual, it is worth using estate planning services to ensure your assets are distributed to the right people. Estate planning can cost upwards of $1000, depending on the financial professional involved.
Why Choose a Wealth Manager for Estate Planning?
If you have between $5 million and $500 million in liquid investment assets, it is in your best interest to use a wealth manager for estate planning. Some reasons to use a wealth manager include:
1. Access to Multiple Services
At Pillar Wealth Management, each of our wealth managers provides a wide variety of services in addition to estate planning. This includes:
– Investment Management
– Retirement Planning
– Risk Analysis
– Tax Planning
2. Planning For the Future
A good wealth manager can help you plan your future in many different ways. They can help you choose investments that offer passive income to your children following your passing. You can learn about some of our portfolio expansion strategies in our special guide.
If you want to increase your savings while you are still alive, they can recommend different wealth-building strategies. Some of these strategies are discussed in our portfolio performance-improvement guide.
3. Experience Serving Wealthy Investors
A wealth manager is a special type of financial advisor that specializes in offering services to individuals with a high net worth or an ultra-high net worth. Our wealth managers understand the various concerns you may have when creating your will and offer guidance accordingly.
They can help you execute advanced financial planning strategies without needing an in-depth understanding of investment and finance. You can learn about some of our special investment strategies in our guide for investors with $10 million or more.
Why Choose Pillar Wealth Management?
Wealthy investors from across the country have chosen Pillar Wealth Management to handle their estate planning needs. These individuals turn to us for assistance because we possess six decades of experience.
We also provide each of our clients with personalized plans to help them achieve each of their financial goals. If you have between $5 million and $500 million in liquid investment assets, you can’t go wrong by choosing us for your estate planning and wealth management needs. Please set up a free appointment with our wealth managers to start your estate planning process as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 7 steps of preparing a will?
List your assets; decide who will get your assets; choose guardians for minor children; name an executor; have witnesses sign the will; store the will in a safe place; keep the will updated.
What questions should I ask when making a will?
The main questions in preparing a will are: what are my assets; who will inherit them, and who will be the executor of the will?
What are the 3 kinds of will?
A basic will distributes assets and assigns guardianship; a testamentary trust will places some assets in a trust; a living will is a document that plans for medical contingencies.
What is the golden rule in will writing?
The golden rule in will writing is that the testator be of sound mind and in good health at the time of writing. A physician should be consulted if the testator is very elderly or has been ill.
What is the best form of will?
The best will is one that thoroughly defines the assets in the estate and to whom and how they should be distributed. It identifies the executor of the will.
What are the most important factors of a will?
It’s important that all assets in the estate are identified, along with their beneficiaries, an executor is identified, and a guardian is assigned to minor children.
What are the main assets in a will?
Assets in a will include cash, securities, bank accounts, insurance policies, real estate, hard goods such as automobiles and boats, personal items such as jewelry and clothing, and household goods.
What is the most important clause in a will?
The most important information in a will is the identification of assets and their beneficiaries.
What are three advantages of a will?
With a will, the assets are identified along with their beneficiaries so they are transferred easily. A will prevents family feuds. A will can identify someone to manage the distribution of assets.
What is clause 8 in a will?
The eighth clause in a will includes general provisions that are particular to your situation, for example, how your estate would be affected by a divorce.
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We enjoy working with high net worth and ultra-high net worth investors and families who want what we call financial serenity – the feeling that comes when you know your finances and the lifestyle you desire have been secured for life, and that you don’t have to do any of the work to manage and maintain it because you hired a trusted advisor to take care of everything.
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