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Estate Planning for Beneficiaries: How to Provide Comfort and Peace of Mind

Cypress Wealth Services

October 2021

A parent, a sibling, a spouse, or a friend—the money and assets that may come from an untimely death will never come close to replacing what you lost. Many of us would give it all up just to have that person back for even one more moment.

Oftentimes, those feelings get lost amidst all the analytical details of estate planning. We talk about life insurance, inheritances, and who gets the house, but what about the mental and emotional aspects of planning? While the dollars and cents are important, it’s also important to create the smoothest transition possible for those left behind.

The last thing you want is to add to the pain of losing a loved one by leaving important legal, medical, and financial decisions to the people who are hurting most—your beneficiaries. Here is a guide to maximizing your estate planning with your beneficiaries in mind.

Provide Peace of Mind With Basic Estate Documents

There are several other documents that need to be completed in order to properly protect yourself and your beneficiaries, including:

Last Will and Testament

A will spells out your final wishes and names a person or entity to handle your financial affairs upon death. It will detail your assets, which heirs receive what, and any other final requests you may have. Most importantly, a will is the document that will identify a legal guardian for your minor children should you pass away before they become legal adults. If you don’t specifically name a guardian, the choice will be made by the court with no input or consideration for your preferences.

Medical Directives and Healthcare Proxies

These documents go a long way in providing peace of mind for your family and beneficiaries. They can alleviate unnecessary stress in otherwise already extremely stressful situations, like medical emergencies, incapacitation, ongoing medical treatment, or even routine procedures.

  • Medical directive: Outlines what type of life-saving intervention you would like and in what situations it should be used
  • Healthcare proxy: Identifies a specific person who is authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf
  • HIPAA authorization: Allows an authorized individual to receive your medical information in the event of an emergency

If there are no documents in place, conflict can arise between who should make the decisions and what course of action should be taken. Take the guesswork out of your medical wishes so your beneficiaries have a clear idea of what you want. Be sure to cover all your bases and fill out these three documents.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) covers everything else outside of medical rights. It allows an authorized individual to make decisions on your behalf, including financial and business decisions. Like medical directives and healthcare proxies, POAs take the guesswork out of stressful events. Planning ahead and clear communication about who holds what responsibility are two of the best things you can do to provide peace of mind.

Limit Hassle and Expense by Avoiding Probate

Probate is the legal process of settling a person’s estate after death. It involves filing documents with the court, and it can be both expensive and time-consuming. When an estate goes through probate, it can cause major delays in the transfer of assets to your heirs. A great way to maximize your estate plan with your beneficiaries in mind is to avoid probate as much as possible. There are three main ways to avoid probate.

Joint Tenancy

Joint tenancy is when an asset is owned equally by two or more individuals with a right of survivorship. This means that the asset will automatically pass to the remaining tenants upon the first tenant’s passing. Consider retitling assets that are solely owned to joint tenancy with rights of survivorship as a way to avoid probate.

Beneficiary Designations

Beneficiary designations exist for many different assets, including qualified retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and checking and savings accounts. Any asset that has a beneficiary listed will transfer automatically upon death without having to go through probate.

Many people often forget to assign beneficiaries to these accounts and the funds wind up as part of their estate. Be sure to double-check that all of your accounts have up-to-date designations, so that your beneficiaries are not left struggling through the probate process.

Revocable Trusts

Though wills are the most well-known estate planning vehicle, revocable trusts are the true linchpin. They operate as a separate entity that holds all of your assets while you’re alive, thereby removing them from your personal estate. You will act as trustee over these assets, and upon death or incapacitation, a named successor trustee will take over. The trustee can be a family member, friend, or a professional fiduciary. They will distribute the trust’s assets to your beneficiaries in accordance with your will, avoiding the hassle and expense of probate.

Partner With a Professional

No one likes to think about the end of their life, but you can only avoid it for so long. Although you can’t avoid the inevitable, you can provide your loved ones with comfort, peace of mind, and protection by planning ahead. The financial side of estate planning is important, but so are the mental and emotional sides. Don’t leave your beneficiaries struggling to figure out the next steps after you’re gone.

We at Cypress Wealth Services want to help you define, gather, and preserve what is yours. We can help you with every aspect of your estate planning, from leaving an inheritance to defining the legacy you wish to give. Contact one of our offices or call 866.888.6563 to get started today.


About Cypress Wealth Services

Cypress Wealth Services is an independent RIA firm providing financial planning and investment management to high net worth individuals, families, business owners, and institutions. Cypress Wealth Services comprises professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications. Cypress Wealth Services is uniquely qualified to serve a broad range of client needs, and their experience and expertise act as a foundation for their client service process. The firm uses The Second Growth, which focuses on efficiently protecting, growing, and transferring to their loved ones the wealth and legacy a person has already built. With financial advisors in Palm Desert, CA, Tustin, CA, and Anchorage, AK, the firm serves clients across the country in Wealth Management Services, Fiduciary Services, 401(k) Design and Management, Investment Reporting Services, Financial and Retirement Planning, and more. For more information, visit or call 760.834.7250.