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Learn more about estate planning

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of directing the disposition of your assets after your passing and appointing trusted individuals to administer your estate plan, care for any minor children, and make financial and health care decisions upon your death or incapacitation.

Who is estate planning for?

An estate plan is for anyone with assets to transfer and affairs that will need to be handled upon their death or incapacitation.

Why consider estate planning?

Estate planning allows you to direct the transfer of your assets in a tax-efficient manner and appoint trusted decision-makers, while reducing the possibility of legal intervention upon your death or incapacitation.

Estate planning with J.P. Morgan

  • Whatever your financial or family situation, discover estate planning services from J.P. Morgan and prepare your legacy with confidence.
  • Explore tax-efficient options for asset transfer both during your lifetime and upon your death.
  • From creating a last will & testament, to setting up a trust, to creating powers of attorney and health care directives, get the expertise you need to guide you through the estate planning process.
  • Access your investment accounts on the go, anytime in the Chase Mobile® app.

JPMorgan Chase and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting professionals before engaging in any transaction.

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Frequently Asked Questions

One of the primary goals of estate planning is to direct the transfer of your assets upon your death to the beneficiaries you intend in an orderly and tax-efficient manner. Depending on the size and complexity of your estate, the transfer of assets may begin during your lifetime.

Estate planning also serves to help avoid uncertainty around how your financial affairs and healthcare needs should be handled after you die or in the event of your incapacitation. This may include financial and health care powers of attorney, a living will, instruction for your funeral arrangements and succession plans for a family business. You may also want to appoint guardians for any minor children should the need arise.

Typical components of effective estate planning may include working with an attorney to prepare a last will and testament, one or more trust documents, financial and health care powers of attorney and advance directives, as well as discussions about how to properly title your assets to facilitate your estate plan. Your attorney or tax advisor may also suggest options for insurance and charitable giving. Understanding how your estate plan works, how it applies to you and your loves ones and how it should be properly implemented, are important for everyone regardless of their asset level.

A last will and testament (or informally a "will"), allows you to direct the disposition of your assets upon your death and appoint trusted individuals to administer your estate. With the help of your attorney, you may choose to distribute your assets to your loved ones directly or to pour your assets over into a trust (described in the next section below). You will also need to name one or more executors or personal representatives (depending on your state) in your will. This can typically be anyone 18 or over, including family members and beneficiaries of your will, whom you entrust with administering its terms and the possible administration of your estate with your local probate court (if necessary). You may also appoint one or more guardians of your minor children (should the need for such a guardianship arise) instead of letting the probate court appoint the guardians for you.

A trust is a document you establish during your lifetime that, in conjunction with your will, governs the disposition of your assets during your lifetime and after your passing. Trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust can be modified or revoked at any time you are alive and competent. An irrevocable trust, on the other hand, is established during your lifetime, but cannot be modified unless permitted by and according to state law. Establishing a trust allows you to direct the distribution of your assets to your loved ones in a tax-efficient manner during your lifetime and after your death. With proper asset titling it may also help avoid the potential expense and inconvenience of your estate plan being subject to judicial oversight. Discuss with your J.P. Morgan advisor and estate planning attorney how establishing a trust and proper asset titling can avoid judicial oversight of your estate plan.

A financial power of attorney grants one or more individuals of your choosing the authority to engage in financial matters on your behalf, such as opening bank accounts, moving funds, and signing contracts. This document can be used while you are living, and can be particularly useful if you are incompetent or otherwise unable to make your own financial decisions.

Similarly, a healthcare power of attorney gives you the ability to appoint one or more persons to make healthcare decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. A living will goes a step further by stating your wishes regarding certain medical decisions, such as the use of artificial nutrition and hydration and organ donation.

Speaking with your advisor and attorney to determine your overall estate goals is typically a good first step when deciding to create an estate plan. Your estate planning attorney can help you list your assets, from real estate and saving accounts to retirement funds and personal property such as cars or jewelry. They can also advise you on the documents and information you will need to prepare your estate plan.

Your attorney will guide you through the process of naming all the major decision-makers of your estate plan and explaining what this will require of them upon your death.

Other items to consider when creating your estate plan may include:

  • Establishing a trust, and appointing trustees and other decision makers
  • Setting up powers of attorney and a living will
  • Checking that the named beneficiaries in investment assets, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts, remain in line with your wishes
  • Specifying a succession plan for a family firm or closely held business
  • Exploring the possible benefits of more complex options for wealth transfer, such as a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) or an installment sale to an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)
  • Considering options for charitable giving within your estate plan

As part of your estate plan, you may decide to start (with the help of your attorney and wealth advisors), transferring some of your assets and updating beneficiary designations during your lifetime.

Even if you already have an estate plan, your attorney and wealth advisors will typically advise to review your estate plan periodically. Circumstances change and your estate plan should reflect those changes as needed.

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