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3 Steps to Preparing Effective Inheritance Plans

July 01, 2010

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1. Make sure you have an up-to-date will.
Your will is one of the most important documents you own. It provides clear direction for your family after you’re gone, when they’re making major decisions under stressful circumstances. When was the last time your will was updated? If it was years ago, you should arrange a meeting with your estate planning attorney to review your decisions. You might have overlooked a change that can affect your wishes, such as a move to another state, tax law changes, or the loss or addition of a family member.

2. Decide where the money goes.
Take some time to decide how you want to provide for the well-being of each of your family members. Don’t let your worries about fairness and equality discourage you. Simply start with the “big picture” items such as real estate, bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement plan assets. This will help you prepare to meet with your estate planning attorney.

After you feel comfortable with your gifts for your family, you may begin to consider supporting Lewis & Clark and our mission to provide students with educational opportunities to help them succeed. Within your estate, there are many assets, such as your IRA or life insurance, that can be used in whole or in part to help you make a big difference. Feel free to contact Sharon Bosserman-Benson for the Undergraduate or the Graduate School at 503-768-7911, 800-753-9292, or,  or the Law School development office at 503-768-6901 or to learn about these options. Then, meet with your estate planning attorney to put your ideas into action.

3. Keep your loved ones informed.
Once you’re at peace with your decisions, gather your family and explain your choices. Help them understand your perspective to avoid any heartache later. Following are a few talking points to help you and your family feel more comfortable:

  • Thank your family for recognizing what this meeting means to you.
  • Emphasize your goals to be fair and your concerns for your loved ones’ futures.
  • Detail the responsibilities, items and amounts you’ve chosen to give your family members and why.
  • Express your desire to give to charity and your goals for your charitable gifts.
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