When you’re creating your estate plan, there are many different ways you can leave your legacy. While it’s generally assumed that the bulk of your estate will go to your offspring or family, it’s completely possible to leave gifts, large sums, and even your entire estate to non-family beneficiaries.
If you want to leave small gifts as part of your estate to trusted team members, household helpers, and good friends, it’s still a good idea to do those either before your death or as part of your estate plan. Gift-giving before your death falls under the IRS’s estate and gift tax exemption rules, meaning that you can give anyone up to $15,000 a year without tax consequences. Further, gifts you make during your lifetime are much harder for other heirs and beneficiaries to challenge.
However, you can also leave gifts in your estate plan. These can be bequests of either money or goods, such as your entire firetruck collection left to the local firetruck museum or your china to your cleaning lady..
One of the most common non-family beneficiaries in an estate are charitable organizations. Giving to charity can be a great way to make a significant gift to an organization you support and even getting acknowledged for your generosity during your lifetime. In addition to gifts made directly from your estate, you can also purchase life insurance that pays out to the charity or charities of your choice upon your death, leaving the rest of your estate intact.
Leaving Large Sums
While less common, you may want to leave a large sum to a non-family beneficiary. In this case, you may want to consider other mechanisms for handling this, such as life insurance or naming them as the beneficiary on a retirement account. If you do decide to leave a large sum to a non-family member, your estate lawyer can help you draft your estate plan in a way that your intent is clear and there is no confusion as to whom you are leaving assets to. You may do this, for example, if you want someone else to raise your children and hold funds in trust for them as they grow up or you may do this simply because they’re the person you feel closest to during your lifetime.
No Family Beneficiaries
You also have the option of writing your family, or a member of your family, completely out of your estate plan. In order to avoid a challenge by that person, you want to make sure to mention them in your will and very specifically write them out. This is especially true if you’re writing out a particular child and leaving your estate to the rest.
Succession planning is a complicated topic with options to consider. The team at Dunn Law Firm works regularly to help individuals with a wide variety of family structures, assets, and goals to set up and review their estate plan and take steps to protect their hard work. To learn more, reach out to the Utah and Nevada estate planning attorneys at Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.