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Considerations for selecting beneficiaries for estate planning

People engage in estate planning for the benefit of their heirs, but the questions of how to select the people who do receive inheritance and how to split one's wealth are not easily answered. By carefully considering a range of issues, one might avoid conflicts and hurt feelings when a plan is executed. This process might be the most emotionally challenging part of estate planning, but having perimeters to help make the decision might lessen the burden for people in New York.

Some people might find it useful to think about inheritances from two different perspectives. One perspective might be from the point of view of rewarding loved ones and people to whom one might feel indebted. Leaving money or other assets to people who have been kind, supportive or loyal is a logical way to assign assets. However, another way to look at the issue is based on the needs of the heirs. Instead of who deserves gifts, one would instead ask what good could come of giving assets to certain people or charitable organizations.

The other significant factor is the method and timing of delivery. Some people might wish to give gifts while they are alive while others would prefer that their assets be distributed when they are gone. The maturity of the heirs could be a consideration as well. Minors or younger adults might not be equipped to deal with an inheritance right away. Whether the method of distribution would result in taxation must be factored into the decision.

No two families are the same. Some might respond better to everyone getting an even split while others might be upset if the wealthier family members received the same as the poorer ones. Issues that are the same for everyone are the laws and rules that govern probate, trusts and other aspects of estate planning. An attorney could assist people in the creation of a comprehensive estate plan that best addresses their needs and their desires for their beneficiaries.

Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning 101: Picking Your Heirs", Larry Light, September 24, 2014

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