With the death of Kal Zeff, a multifamily Denver, Colorado, real estate magnet, the story of his heirs beginning to liquidate his properties may seem sad at first, but we think it is worth a closer look, as there are many parts of this situation that we would be fortunate to emulate.
While Mr. Zeff’s estate is grand in size and complex in nature, we have been witness to many, much smaller, simpler issues that have unfortunately not been a smooth transition. Mr. Zeff has left his estate in a situation that has made it fluid for his heirs to do what they want without difficulties. Many dream of the children carrying on the family business, but in reality, this is not always the case.
The goal in any estate plan should be to effectuate an orderly tax efficient distribution to the next generation, while allowing for a continuation of the business, if any, or all, of the children choose to do so. While it is impossible to anticipate every nuance of the distribution, a focus on straight forward, less complex, transfers and distributions may help.
In our experience, here are a few key items to help streamline a smooth transition:
- Have your Wills, Trusts, deeds, titles, loan and other related documents in a safe place that someone, preferably your Executor, knows the location.
- Make sure you have a good Executor. This person will have a key role in the transition process. Your Executor should be familiar with your team of advisors i.e. Planner, Accountant, Estate Attorney.
- Let the heirs have a general idea where and what the assets are, and what direction they may be directed. Size and amounts are not the important part of this discussion, focusing on location and direction is a much greater concern.
- Allow the Children an easy way of selling the assets, they most likely will not want everything you have accumulated, and if they do, you will already know it. Pokes from the grave make for a funny story while living, but in reality can cause angst.
- Be sure to acknowledge all heirs, even if assets are not intended to be distributed to them, if not, the assumption may be that you have forgotten them.
- Fluid, simple, smooth process which is dynamic, and will continue to change from tax laws and important decision makers is key. Well written Estate planning documents will achieve this, do not attempt to over complicate the situation.
Your Financial Planning Advisor should monitor your situation for changes in tax laws, estate planning techniques, and most importantly, your wishes. The Estate Planning Attorney creates the documents, make changes as necessary, and may also communicate with you concerning changes in techniques or laws.
Lastly, while this information may seem easy and logical on first glance, completing a good Estate Plan is much harder than many realize, so do not get frustrated. Take your time, and review our items above.
Be sure to check with the appropriate advisor for directions, as we are not Estate Attorneys, and are not recommending any specific action, only sharing information from the previously well traveled, “path of hard knocks.”
Have a Great Day!