Estate planning — it sounds fancy, we know.
But preparing for the future is a common-sense habit for people of all income levels, and can save your loved ones in time and money later on.
“Estate planning has become a generic term. It’s really how you handle your assets and transfer them from one generation to the next.” — Matthew Fedor, attorney
“Estate planning is really important for everybody,” says Matthew Fedor, an estate planning attorney. “The less money you have, the more planning you should do.”
He says the term of art may be intimidating, but estate planning really is just about how to transfer your assets to the next generation.
Yet finding a lawyer, preparing a will and sifting through college savings plans can all feel overwhelming.
101.9 WDET is here to assist our audience in learning new skills they can execute from the comfort of their domestic abodes. This week, education reporter Sascha Raiyn leads a conversation with two experts on the first steps you can begin to take.
Listen: Planning your estate, saving for college and other questions for the everyday Michigander.
- Matthew Fedor is an estate planning attorney at Foster Swift.
- Robin Lott is the executive director of the Michigan Education Trust.
Make a plan, and check it every two to three years.
The most common mistake someone can make is not planning for the future and leaving it to the next generation to suss out. Not only will that be more costly in terms of advisor fees, but it could be an emotional strain on a loved one after your death.
Our experts recommend reviewing your assets every two to three years on average, and checking that your beneficiary designations and other details are up-to-date.
Find a lawyer.
There’s a number of ways you can pass your assets on to the next generation — wills, trusts and specific savings plans. These can help protect your assets from being seized by a creditor upon death.
While the cost of a lawyer to assess these options can vary greatly, our experts say it should range between a few hundred dollars and the low thousands for someone with a relatively simple estate.
Consider tax-preferred savings.
Michiganders may already be familiar with 529 savings plans, a tax-advantaged way to pay for your children’s future education — including costs like room and board — at cheaper rates today. But there are other options available as well, and some come with tax deductions. It’s worth exploring all your options based on your situation and children’s plans.