For a lot of practicing physician, the primary need during the second phase of their financial and legal planning once after building well on the retirement and protection accounts is some basic estate planning. Most of them prefer to do it in the conventional form of a will or as a revocable living trust.
However, on getting into it for the first time, novice estate planners tend to make some critical mistakes which may be affecting negatively over time. So, at the first point, it is essential to know about such potential issues and the easy fixes for them for a perfect estate planning for physicians.
Mistakes to avoid
1. Stay inactive
The major issue as far as estate planning of physicians are concerned is that they tend to put it aside and focus more on other time-sensitive elements as taxes, deposits, investments, earnings etc. Estate planning is actually meant to address the unexpected events, which they don’t count as a necessity many times. But, one should always know that there are no “last minute” solutions for this, and doing it today is a good idea since tomorrow may be too late.
2. Old documents
We may often see that the physicians who have the need to process complicated legal and tax planning rely most on old documents, which actually don’t account for their present financial status, assets, needs, and family structure. A common example for critical omission found in many cases is the estate not getting updated after childbirth. There may be also misevaluation in terms of the natural skills of different children and the level of their financial acumen.
The next generation actually doesn’t want to get the inheritance in the same way as before and or at the same controls. So, when planning a physician’s estate, you shouldn’t simply plan for just the lowest or highest common denominator and thereby personalization instruction for each child.
3. Selection of trustees
This seems to be another very common issue in terms of physician estate planning with an improper selection of the guardians and trustees. It is a common practice that many of the young physicians tend to name their own parents as guardians for children, but don’t update it after the advanced age or death of their parents or in line with the physical and mental capacity of them to act as an administrator for your estate. In case of estate planning for doctors, you need to be careful in designating who to take care of what role and update this selection periodically based on changing circumstances.
4. Keeping it top secret
In many cases, it may be an accident in which one among the couple is responsible for all financial planning and legal affair and the other one focus more on household details. In such cases, the one party who is out of the picture mostly knows that such issues were taken care of, but has no idea where the estate is, who prepared it, or whom to approach in case of a legal aide in case of a death.
So, at the very first point, ensure that at least your spouse or a couple of close ones know where this document is and what the general contents are. However, it is not necessary that your kids or other beneficiaries see the fine prints to get every minute detail, but there is no trouble in giving them an overview. The decision of disclosure is purely person which can be done at the appropriate age of children or based on other priorities of the beneficiaries on your discretion.
5. Not updating beneficiaries
You may be maintaining many bank accounts, investments, insurance plans, retirement policies etc. For all these, you need to specify beneficiaries while opening. Have you ever checked whether those had been updated from time to time? Are you fully aware of the tax implications say for example, in case of inherited IRA etc.?
There is a high chance that most of the busy physicians don’t find time for it, but this can be quite troublesome in future. If not done properly, this is one essential thing to do in order to make sure that everything is properly in place and your hard-earned money never gets stuck in case of any adverse situations.
6. Forgetting digital assets
Many of the new-age professionals now moved on to online statement and account management from the conventional paperwork. It is obviously good as it can save a lot of time and money for you, but it is essential to ensure that someone has access to the password of all the accounts and e-mail IDs where you used to get the alerts. When you have data stored in digital format, considering setting up a formal and clean e-mail and digital storage mechanism for family and business use specifically.
The above-mentioned mistakes are very commonly made by physicians in terms of estate planning, which you should abstain from in order to make sure that everything runs smoothly and on time.