No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate. And an estate plan simply makes sure that everything you own, and what you wish to have happen, when you're no longer able to do it yourself or when you pass away, is handled the way you want. We work with a team of estate planning experts to help you develop the best strategies so that your family won't be burdened by speculating on what you may have wanted.
You do—no matter your age. If you're young and single, you most likely will only need a few things like a will and powers of attorney for your medical care and finances. If you have children, you'll want to name a guardian. And if you have substantial wealth, you may want to look into trusts to help control how your assets are taxed, managed, and distributed. Talk to an advisor about what will work best for you.
A lot. Estate planning makes sure that everything stays on track when you're no longer in control. You can use a will, trust, and other estate planning documents to speak for you when you're not able to speak for yourself. If you don't have a plan for your estate when you pass away, state law (typically called intestate laws) will determine where your assets will go. Estate planning can also help maintain the value of your estate by minimizing costs associated with taxes and administration. Get more details on the estate planning process.
An estate plan is a key part of a strong financial plan. While a financial plan will help you feel at ease about your money throughout your life, an estate plan will give you (and your loved ones) peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed no matter what. See how an estate plan can fit into your financial plan. Talk with an advisor today.
More often than not, yes. You've likely built a life together, made decisions together, and managed your assets jointly along the way. So it's a good idea to figure out who will get what when you're not longer here, so there are no surprises to your spouse. Ready to create your estate plan? Get started by talking with an advisor.
Yes. Probate is when a court supervises the distribution of assets based on your will or a state's intestacy laws. It can create delays, add costs (filing and attorney's fees), and since records of probate court are public record, there's loss of privacy. Here are two ways an estate plan can avoid probate proceedings:
By making sure that you have beneficiary designations for your life insurance policy, individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s, etc.
By setting up a revocable trust that can give you flexibility and income throughout our life, then will transfer your estate to your beneficiaries when you die
In general, you should update your estate plan every three to five years. You'll want to consider things like if your intentions have changed, that the right people are included, etc. However, there are some common milestones and life events that could require you to update your estate plan sooner, such as getting married or divorced, having kids, getting sick, or if you move to another state. Talk to an advisor about getting your plan up to date.
The estate tax is typically applied to your assets once you've passed away. The federal estate tax will be assessed on the current fair market value of your assets at the time of your death. However, assets inherited by your spouse or heirs (limited to just over $12M in 2022 for non-spouses) are generally not subject to the federal estate tax. At the state level, estate or inheritance laws and tax rates vary by state. You can find out which states apply a tax, and how much, here.
How estate planning fits in with your financial plan
At Northwestern Mutual, estate planning is part of a strong overall financial plan. Through your advisor, you can also access other options to help you reach all of your goals, including investments for growth, insurance for protection, and annuities for more flexibility in retirement. Each is designed to reinforce the other so your personalized plan can work its hardest for you. Here's what our version of financial planning can do for you:
Help grow your money with investments for today and in retirement
Make the most of what you have with recommendations for saving and paying down debt