If you are married, you must take into consideration the rights your spouse has under statelaw before you can decide who should inherit your assets. Each state has laws designed toprotect surviving spouses. These laws dictate the minimum amount of property that mustpass to a spouse unless otherwise agreed to by the spouses. If your estate plan provides lessfor your spouse than state law deems appropriate, the law permits the spouse to elect to receive a greater amount. Once you’ve considered the amount you want to leave your spouse, other questions to consider include.
If you have children, do you want all of them to receive some share of your assets?
If a child should predecease you, do you want his or her children — your grandchildren
— to receive that child’s share of your assets?
Do you wish to include other individuals as beneficiaries?
Do you have philanthropic goals?
WHAT A S S E T S S H O U L D T H E Y I N H E R I T ?
This may depend on the type of asset and the ability of each recipient.Do you want a recipient to receive a specific asset? For example, if you own a business, do you want your interest to pass only to the children active in the business? If so, how are other children to be compensated? Do you want a recipient to receive a percentage of the estate value or an interest in your assets? For example, do you want your children to receive an equal share of your estate, or an interest based on need, such as for education or health?
Do you own assets that require skill in managing, such as rental properties or an
investment portfolio? Is it appropriate for all your beneficiaries to inherit these assets?
Have you considered each beneficiary’s ability to manage the assets inherited?