PS – Estate Planning

Funeral & Cemetery Professionals | Personal Solutions > Estate Planning

A well-designed, comprehensive Estate Plan gives funeral service and cemetery professionals the ability to transfer wealth with maximum efficiency and minimal taxes—especially if a business or real estate is involved.

Building an estate plan is a complex process, but we’re ready to help — Roosevelt’s CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals and Certified Exit Planner (for business owners) can serve as your guide, giving you advice every step of the way.

Wealth Management in New York NY
Estate Planning New York NY

Establishing Your Estate Plan’s Foundation: 7 Step Checklist

Roosevelt Investments can help you navigate all aspects of your estate plan. In the meantime, here is a useful checklist for understanding the basics of estate planning.

Download the Estate Planning Checklist

1. Check Your Beneficiaries

In general, the beneficiaries you designate on accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs—or on policies like annuities and life insurance—will supersede what you designate in a written will. Therefore, it is important to review and update your beneficiaries each year

For taxable accounts like Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTWROS), individual brokerage accounts or bank accounts, there are not typically beneficiary designations available. However, many accounts allow for “Transfer on Death” (TOD) registrations. This designation works like a beneficiary, where you designate who should receive the assets upon your passing. The TOD will also generally override a will, so it is important to make sure your designations are up to date.

2. Create a Will, Powers of Attorney, and a Living Will

Here’s a breakdown of items to consider:

Will – A will is a document used to determine how your assets should be distributed, how your debt is settled, and who should administer the estate.

You can create a will on your own, but to ensure your family avoids the courts and fees associated with probate, we think it is best to draft your will with a legal professional. To note, studies show that probate expenses typically range from 2% – 5% of the estate’s assets. In dollar terms, it could mean paying up to $50,000 to settle a $1 million estate—not a desirable outcome.

Funeral Expenses – Nearly all funeral service and cemetery professionals know about the benefits of preneed planning. It’s a key feature of a well-rounded estate plan.

Power of Attorney – Setting up power of attorney is useful if you want to give a trusted person access to make decisions on your accounts, like making trades or withdrawing cash. Separate but related is the power of attorney for health care, in which you give someone the authority to make health care decisions on your behalf.

Living Will – A living will is different from a conventional will. A living will determines how you should receive medical care in the event you can no longer express informed consent.

The first step in creating these documents is to thoughtfully consider how you want your estate to be settled. Talking it over with family is usually important, too.

3. Explore the Costs and Benefits of Trusts

Creating a will and setting your beneficiaries can help establish an orderly passing of your assets. A trust goes a step further, giving you greater control over how, when, and to whom your assets are passed.

For example, you may not want your heirs to receive their inheritance all at once—some of your heirs could be minors or have special needs. In all these cases, a trust allows you to dictate specific terms and conditions for asset distribution. A trust can also help protect your assets from creditors while offering you tax shelters.

For many funeral service and cemetery business owners, perpetual care and preneed trusts are key to running your business and ensuring its long-term success.

Roosevelt Investments specializes in helping firms in the profession establish these trusts, develop Investment Policy Statements, manage the assets in the trusts, and stay up to date on state regulations.

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Roosevelt Investments’ experienced advisors can help you determine which types of trusts may work well with your specific situation, and we also have decades of experience managing investments within trusts.

4. Choose an Executor of Your Estate or Trustees

An executor is charged with overseeing the settling of an estate; designating an executor will take the weight off your family’s shoulders.

A trustee is the person or entity you select to handle the administrative aspects and investment decisions associated with managing the trust(s).

The people you select for these roles should be highly trusted and possess some managerial, administrative, and investment experience.

In our view, an effective method for selecting your trustees is to split responsibilities between a corporate trustee (like a bank or other financial institution) and a personal contact, like a family member. The corporate trustee can handle the investment and administrative duties, while the individual trustee can assume responsibility for distributing the assets and maintaining a good relationship with the family.

5. Establish Your Business Exit and Succession Plan

If you are a funeral home or cemetery owner, you will leave your business one day (last we checked, no one lives forever). Building your business probably took years and possibly generations of hard work, and for many owners, your wealth is very closely connected to the business (and possibly the real estate associated with it).

An estate plan will help to make sure this wealth is preserved. Roosevelt Investments has the experience and the expertise in the funeral service and cemetery business needed to help you structure your exit from the business and your succession plan, if applicable.

6. Be Mindful of Tax Laws

Laws applying to estates and estate taxes often change, whether it is exemption amounts, exclusions for gifts, trust rules and regulations, tax rates, and more. Roosevelt can help you stay up to date with everything related to your estate plan and advise you on changes when it makes sense.

Roosevelt’s Wealth Advisors can also work with your estate tax attorney to ensure your plan is optimally structured with respect to the latest rules and regulations.

7. Talk to Your Family About Your Estate Plan

Talking to your family about estate planning is critical, but many people overlook it.

The more you prepare and inform your family about the details of the plan and everyone’s respective roles, the less of a chance that legal and other challenges will arise later.

In many cases, it can make sense to have your Wealth Advisor or estate attorney mediate this type of discussion with your family, so that everyone can have their questions addressed ahead of time. Once again, we can help.

Estate Planning is crucial, but its complex nature makes it easy to delay. Roosevelt Investments can make it easier for you.

Get Started With Your Estate Plan Today.


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