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McCurrie McCurrie
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Details to consider when creating an estate plan, part three

This post is the final article in a three-part series about the details to include in your will. Like we mentioned in our last two posts, there are big-picture things that almost everyone in New Jersey knows to include in their estate plan. However, there are also numerous details that make the difference between a simple and uncomplicated estate administration and one that is bogged down by frustrations.

Our last posts discussed details related to cash flow, records of your assets and identifying creditors. Today we will focus on accurately valuating your assets and making sure changes in their values are properly accounted for.

When an estate is being divided, everything in the estate will be assigned a value. Many estate plans assume that assets have a fixed value. However that can have downfalls. Executors need to be able to determine the value of assets for the tax return, and they must be able to support the figures they propose.

If you have assets that fluctuate in value, leave your executor with information regarding how those values were determined and factors that may have changed their values since the estate plan was created.

Finally, it is important to consider what you want to happen if the value of your assets changes significantly. For example, if you planned to give each of your children an asset of equal and significant value, but one asset dropped in value, it is important to consider how you want that situation handled. One option is using a change formula in your will. Change formulas help dictate the actual value of what each child should receive, where additional funds should go if they asset has increased in value, and how an asset should be supplemented if its value decreased.

Because the executor is responsible for overseeing so many variables, it is important to make sure you have the proper person in that position. Read our post from mid-March to learn about some of the things you should consider when choosing the executor, including whether you should choose a family member for the responsibility and how many people to name.

Source: Investing Daily, "Forgotten Estate Planning Issues," Bob Carlson, 19 April 2011

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