5 tips to help make your estate planning successful
It's easy to put off big decisions, such as who will own the land after you, but making that decision can ease your mind. Here are five tips to help ensure your vision is reached.
• There is a deadline. None of us live forever. There is a deadline for taking action; we just don't know when it is.
• An easy place to start. A simple will that names a beneficiary creates an immediate safety net for your land. As your plans become more concrete or your wishes or situation change, you can easily change or refine that bequest at any time.
• Can your family afford to inherit your land? Keep tabs on estate tax laws. If estate taxes on valuable land are high and the land is your main estate asset, consider a conservation easement, which could lower your estate value and make it possible to pass it on and protect it.
• Communication with your inheritors is key. Be sure your beneficiaries know your conservation values, reasons behind management choices and advice for caring for the land. If you bequeath to a non-profit or a conservation agency, discuss your restrictions to ensure that they will be able to honor your wishes.
• Consider the impact of “Leaving it to the kids.” When parents bequeath land in equal shares to their children without prior discussion, grieving siblings suddenly become business partners who must make land and money decisions together. This can damage family relationships if siblings cannot agree, and this could force the sale of the land.
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