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Estate planning tips during the recession– how to navigate it like a pro

Learn how to safeguard your assets during a financial crisis through estate planning.

Lyle Solomon

Lyle Solomon, @lyle-solomon

Principal Attorney, Oak View Law Group

Many would view estate preparation as a luxury during lean times. If they prepare for a recession, they might avoid the up-front costs of setting one up or making big improvements. However, the truth is that during a financial crisis, safeguarding your savings becomes even more crucial.

If you're unprepared, your current wealth may diminish due to greater unemployment and declining values for assets like businesses and residences. Your beneficiaries may suffer a loss during a recession if you pass away before protecting your assets. Thankfully, there are numerous ways to safeguard your possessions and your heirs.

Estate planning tips during the recession

A thorough estate and asset protection plan typically costs between $2,000 and $5,000 to prepare. This cost is insignificant compared to the penalties for failing to sufficiently "wall off" your property from creditors and the potential legal fees associated with will or probate contests (average will contest expenses can range from $10,000 to $50,000 (2012). 

Therefore, it is a wise financial move to strengthen your asset protection and estate planning techniques far in advance of when you expect to require them. This is particularly true during economic turbulence when risks of all kinds increase.

Let's dive into the specifics! Without further ado, here are a few helpful estate planning tips to protect your assets during a recession. 

Create an estate plan

Recognize that everyone, including those who may not have significant assets, should create a Will or Trust.

When considering estate planning, people frequently visualize affluent investors or a family with abundant properties. However, middle-class and low-income households must comprehend the significance of making a Will.

Making a Will or Trust assists surviving family members with the numerous challenges that would arise after death. This plan details funeral and burial expenses as well as any potential tax liabilities for the family. It also gives the younger generation a financial boost. A fantastic way to leave a greater legacy that may not have been amassed over your lifetime is to include a life insurance policy. 

A Will can ensure that your family is united in your legacy and that the things you have worked hard to build during your lifetime will not be lost. Having a will can also help you get further with your family than you would alone.

You must mention both secured and unsecured debt in your will. Debt that is secured by an asset is a secured debt. Mortgages and auto loans are two types of secured debt. If you intend to leave an asset used as security for a secured loan to a beneficiary in your will, you should make clear whether the debt will also pass to the new owner. If you want the individual to own the property but not be saddled with the related debt, you should also make provisions for paying off the debt.

Debt that is not backed by an asset is unsecured. This includes credit card bills, medical bills, utility bills, etc. State law typically mandates that these expenses be covered out of your estate. You can decide whether you want to give your executor overall authority to consolidate high-interest debts and make these payments out of your estate or if you wish to provide specific instructions about which assets to use.

Review your financial situation to reduce investment risk

It's crucial to evaluate your present financial status before making future plans.

When you become wealthy, you have a great duty to continue learning about the ideal investments. Understand how economic changes affect your investments and what affects your stocks. Investigate the reasons behind any changes in your assets rather than following them blindly. Be aware of the movement of your money, especially concerning retirement accounts. Learn as much as you can about chances that will help you achieve your goals while posing fewer risks. People should do their research and play a proactive part in understanding how the value of their assets fluctuates and how they may take advantage of this to optimize growth. 

After you have spent some time expanding your portfolio and learning how to manage your wealth, diversify. The education surrounding wealth creation may intimidate many individuals, but everyone can understand it by reading and investigating.

Gift your assets 

The owners of real estate and commercial assets might give bigger percentages of them from their estate when the fair market value of those assets declines during a recession. Taxes will be saved for business owners and may also be advantageous for heirs.

The impact of the gift is increased over time as the economy returns to normal and the appreciation value rises.

Put resources in place to aid in spending analysis

Developing good financial habits can be challenging, mainly if there is no mechanism to monitor current trends. Before creating an estate plan, think about employing technology to assist you in tracking what is coming into and going out of the house.

Find a tool that tracks the categories of your expenditure, such as Mint or other programs banks are now offering. When there are rumors of a recession, these tools might assist you in figuring out how to have more cash on hand and become more liquid. You can be more adaptable if you have more money and better budgeting skills to see where your money is going. 

By making an estate plan today, you can shield your beneficiaries from incurring high costs in the future without the proper legal and financial safeguards in place. Here at Trust & Will, we’re here to help keep things simple. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific estate plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our different estate planning and settlement options today!

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