By: Laura M. Torres González, Esq.
Financial Planner / Assistant Vice President
Wealth Management Division, BPPR
The process of estate planning is often misunderstood. In the minds of many people, the term assumes wealth and heirs. However, planning for the disposition of one’s assets upon death offers everyone significant benefits.
The greatest benefit may be in knowing that your wishes will be respected. Designating which assets your heirs will receive is far preferable to having a court make such decisions. Naming your heirs relieves them of unnecessary costs and stress.
A will is the basis of any estate plan, simple or complicated. Through a will, a person declares how he or she wants his properties or assets to be distributed after death. To draw up your will, you should consider consulting a financial planner and an attorney qualified to do estate planning.
An estate planning professional will ask you tough questions you may not have considered, for example:
- Could your elderly parents manage an inheritance if they were to survive you?
- Do you want to include your children’s spouses in your estate?
- If your estate could be affected by the death of a child or divorce, have you considered how these two painful situations might affect the distribution of your assets?
Advantages of granting a will
- The will provides certainty to the heirs that a document exists, expressing the last wishes of the deceased. The latter can not only dispose the distribution of assets, but can also include non-monetary dispositions such as those related to funerary arrangements.
- Granting a will reduces obstacles in the process of determining heirs and the distribution of assets. The will establishes who the heirs are, so it makes unnecessary going to court to identify them or going to a notary to request an heir declaration.
- The testator can name a person of his or her confidence as an executor, to administer assets and watch for the fulfillment of his last desires. The executor is called to take care of funerary arrangements, make an inventory of the deceased’s assets, identify creditors, hire specialists if necessary, and is held accountable for the inheritance’s administration, among others.
- Allows the efficient distribution of wealth when heirs are minors or disabled. Minors (younger than 21 years old) and the mentally disabled are not legally capable of receiving an inheritance even when they are called to be heirs. Through the preparation of a will a testamentary trust can be instituted as a preventive measure to avoid government intervention.
- Serves as a tax planning tool to protect wealth. Everything that a testator leaves to a spouse as an inheritance is tax exempt known as a marital deduction.
- Minimize controversies in the distribution of assets. The will can minimize disputes among heirs. If conditions established by the testator are not met, the heir in question could be eliminated as beneficiary of any portion of the inheritance.
- Helps reduce the duration of the inheritance community. The will indicates the way to distribute assets and the dissolution of the inheritance community, accomplishing it in less time.
The preparation and granting of a will are essentials for a successful estate planning. For your peace of mind and your loved ones, consult with Popular One’s team of experts in financial planning, to help you develop a plan suitable for you.
Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, its subsidiaries and/or affiliates do not engage in the offering of tax, legal, or accounting advice. If legal, tax, or accounting assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought.