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Your Bank > Education and Advice > CNB University

Leaving a Legacy - Crucial Conversations with your Adult Children

J Dart
Jillian Erika Dart, Esq., CTFA, AEP
Senior Vice President, Senior Trust Officer - Team Leader
[email protected]
(585) 419-0670 x41935

You've worked hard to accumulate wealth, but to ensure that your legacy reaches your heirs as you intend, you must make proper arrangements. It is important to speak with your family to ensure that they know your wishes about how you want your legacy to pass. These conversations will help ensure as smooth a transition as possible. There are four basic ways to leave a legacy: (1) by will, (2) by trust, (3) by beneficiary designation, and (4) by joint ownership arrangements. 

Wills: A will is the cornerstone of any estate plan – no matter the size of your estate and even if you have implemented other estate planning strategies. You can leave property by will in two ways: making specific or general bequests. A specific bequest directs a particular piece of property to a particular person. A general bequest is typically a percentage of property or property that is left over after all specific bequests have been made. 

Trusts: You can leave property to your heirs using a trust. Trust property passes directly to the beneficiaries according to the trust terms. There are two basic types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. 

Revocable trusts are flexible because you can change the terms of the trust and the property in the trust. This is a good way to protect your property in case you become incapacitated. Irrevocable trusts can't be changed or ended except by its terms, but can be useful if you want to minimize estate taxes or protect your property from potential creditors. 

Beneficiary designations: Property that is contractual in nature, such as life insurance and retirement accounts, passes to heirs by beneficiary designation. Beneficiaries can be persons or entities and you should name primary and contingent beneficiaries. 

Joint ownership arrangements: Two persons can own property equally, and at the death of one, the other becomes the sole owner. This type of ownership is called joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (JTWRS). A JTWRS arrangement between spouses is known as tenancy by the entirety, and several states have a form of joint ownership known as community property. 

Another type of joint ownership is called tenancy in common where there is no right of survivorship. Property held as tenancy in common will not pass to a joint owner automatically. Joint ownership arrangements are useful and convenient with some types of property, but may not be desirable with all of your property. 

Our team at CNB Wealth Management is ready to answer any questions you may have about your trust and estate needs.

This material is provided for general information purposes only. Past performance is not indicative of future investment results. Any investment involves potential risk, including potential loss of capital. Before making any investment decision, please consult your legal, tax and financial advisors. Non-deposit investment products are not bank deposits and are not insured or guaranteed by Canandaigua National Bank & Trust or its affiliates, or any federal or state government or agency and are subject to investment risks, including possible loss of principal amount invested.