Wealth Planning

How to create a sound estate plan

We offer five actions needed to create a sound estate plan.


Everybody always tells us we need an estate plan. But do we really? And what does that actually mean and how do we go about creating one—or checking the one we have?

You want a well-thought-out estate plan so that if and when you are incapacitated or pass away, what you’d like to happen (to you, your assets and family members) actually does. That means you need to put some basic legal documents in place and take some key actions.

Here, we offer the five actions needed to create a sound estate plan. These apply to every U.S. adult—no exceptions. So if you haven’t taken these estate planning steps, we strongly recommend you do so as soon as possible.

Estate Planning Checklist 

1. Know what you have. Take an inventory of your assets and where they are held. That includes all your investment and retirement accounts, as well as insurance policies, deeds and safe deposit boxes. This accounting is essential information for anyone who will be handling your estate. 

2. Look carefully at how your assets are owned. We cannot emphasize how important it is for you to know whether the assets are held jointly or solely. With your retirement accounts and insurance policies, it is critical that you name both primary and contingent beneficiaries. 

Titling can make a big difference in how assets transfer to people. For example, your will does not control how jointly held assets will pass. Rather, jointly held property will pass automatically to the joint owner. Also, if you haven’t designated a beneficiary for your retirement account or insurance policy, the assets or insurance proceeds will be transferred according to whatever your retirement plan or insurance provider has as its default—typically that’ll be your estate or, if you’re married, your spouse.  

3. Make a will, sign it and be sure you follow your state’s rules so the will is considered valid. For many reasons, people tend to put off making a will. But if you don’t have a will, it will be the state in which you have lived that will dictate how and when your assets will be distributed.

Also, if you have minor children, identify a guardian for them in your will. If you do not, the state may get involved in determining who becomes their legal guardian. 

4. Name someone to make financial and medical decisions for you when you cannot. If something happens to you and you can no longer make important financial or medical decisions for yourself, you’ll want to have someone you trust—e.g., a family member or professional—with the authority to do so. There are separate legal documents you’ll need to make sure this happens: a power of attorney for financial decisions; and, for the medical decisions, a healthcare proxy (which may be called something different in different states). In addition to signing formal documents, be sure to discuss with your trusted family member or professional the kinds of decisions you’d like them to make for you. Also consider creating a “living will” to let your healthcare providers know your wishes regarding a variety of medical options.

5. Speak to everyone involved. A simple but key estate planning tip is to make a list of all your advisors (accountant, attorney, financial, etc.) and key family members so that the people who handle your estate will know whom to contact. Also consider letting your family know the outlines of your estate plan. Communication—especially if you have a blended or complex family situation—can be key to making sure that your wishes are carried out, and your family lives harmoniously.

 We can help

These are the basic building blocks of an estate plan that everyone should have if they want to decide who benefits from their assets and how they, and their family, will be taken care of. There are additional estate planning strategies for people who have significant wealth and a desire to do multigenerational and/or charitable giving. For example, you may want to consider whether trusts might serve your goals. You also might explore different approaches to furthering your children’s (and grandchildren’s) education. Speak with your J.P. Morgan team about your family’s needs—and look for other sound estate plan articles.

 

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

KEY RISKS

All companies referenced are shown for illustrative purposes only, and are not intended as a recommendation or endorsement by J.P. Morgan in this context.

This material is intended to help you understand the financial consequences of the concepts and strategies discussed here in very general terms. The strategies discussed often involve complex tax and legal issues. Your own attorney and other tax advisors can help you consider whether the ideas illustrated here are appropriate for your individual circumstances. JPMorgan Chase & Co. does not practice law, and does not give tax, accounting or legal advice. We are available to consult with you and your legal and tax advisors as you move forward with your planning.​

All market and economic data as of May 2020 and sourced from Bloomberg Finance L.P. and FactSet unless otherwise stated.

The information presented is not intended to represent value judgments on the preferred outcome of any government decision.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NOT A DEPOSIT OR OTHER OBLIGATION OF, OR GUARANTEED BY, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES • SUBJECT TO INVESTMENT RISKS, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LOSS OF THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT INVESTED

This material is for informational purposes only, and may inform you of certain products and services offered by J.P. Morgan’s wealth management businesses, part of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (“JPM”). Please read all Important Information.

• The MSCI China Index captures large- and mid-cap representation across China H-shares, B-shares, Red chips, P chips and foreign listings (e.g., ADRs). With 459 constituents, the index covers about 85% of this China equity universe. Currently, the index also includes Large-Cap A-shares represented at 5% of their free-float-adjusted market capitalization.

• The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks. The index is designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. The index was developed with a base level of 10 for the 1941 to 1943 base period.

• The STOXX Europe 600 Index tracks 600 publicly traded companies based in one of 18 EU countries. The index includes small-cap, medium-cap and large-cap companies. The countries represented in the index are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

GENERAL RISKS & CONSIDERATIONS

Any views, strategies or products discussed in this material may not be appropriate for all individuals and are subject to risks. Investors may get back less than they invested, and past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss. Nothing in this material should be relied upon in isolation for the purpose of making an investment decision. You are urged to consider carefully whether the services, products, asset classes (e.g., equities, fixed income, alternative investments, commodities, etc.) or strategies discussed are suitable to your needs. You must also consider the objectives, risks, charges and expenses associated with an investment service, product or strategy prior to making an investment decision. For this and more complete information, including discussion of your goals/situation, contact your J.P. Morgan team.

NON-RELIANCE

Certain information contained in this material is believed to be reliable; however, JPM does not represent or warrant its accuracy, reliability or completeness, or accept any liability for any loss or damage (whether direct or indirect) arising out of the use of all or any part of this material. No representation or warranty should be made with regard to any computations, graphs, tables, diagrams or commentary in this material, which are provided for illustration/reference purposes only. The views, opinions, estimates and strategies expressed in this material constitute our judgment based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice. JPM assumes no duty to update any information in this material in the event that such information changes. Views, opinions, estimates and strategies expressed herein may differ from those expressed by other areas of JPM, or views expressed for other purposes or in other contexts; this material should not be regarded as a research report. Any projected results and risks are based solely on hypothetical examples cited, and actual results and risks will vary depending on specific circumstances. Forward-looking statements should not be considered as guarantees or predictions of future events.

Nothing in this document shall be construed as giving rise to any duty of care owed to, or advisory relationship with, you or any third party. Nothing in this document shall be regarded as an offer, solicitation, recommendation or advice (whether financial, accounting, legal, tax or other) given by J.P. Morgan and/or its officers or employees, irrespective of whether or notwhether or not such communication was given at your request. J.P. Morgan and its affiliates and employees do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any financial transactions.  

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR INVESTMENTS AND POTENTIAL CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Conflicts of interest will arise whenever JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. or any of its affiliates (together, “J.P. Morgan”) have an actual or perceived economic or other incentive in its management of our clients’ portfolios to act in a way that benefits J.P. Morgan. Conflicts will result, for example (to the extent the following activities are permitted in your account): (1) when J.P. Morgan invests in an investment product, such as a mutual fund, structured product, separately managed account or hedge fund issued or managed by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. or an affiliate, such as J.P. Morgan Investment Management Inc.; (2) when a J.P. Morgan entity obtains services, including trade execution and trade clearing, from an affiliate; (3) when J.P. Morgan receives payment as a result of purchasing an investment product for a client’s account; or (4) when J.P. Morgan receives payment for providing services (including shareholder servicing, recordkeeping or custody) with respect to investment products purchased for a client’s portfolio. Other conflicts will result because of relationships that J.P. Morgan has with other clients or when J.P. Morgan acts for its own account.

Investment strategies are selected from both J.P. Morgan and third-party asset managers and are subject to a review process by our manager research teams. From this pool of strategies, our portfolio construction teams select those strategies we believe fit our asset allocation goals and forward-looking views in order to meet the portfolio’s investment objective.

As a general matter, we prefer J.P. Morgan managed strategies. We expect the proportion of J.P. Morgan managed strategies will be high (in fact, up to 100 percent) in strategies such as cash and high-quality fixed income, subject to applicable law and any account-specific considerations.

While our internally managed strategies generally align well with our forward-looking views, and we are familiar with the investment processes as well as the risk and compliance philosophy of the firm, it is important to note that J.P. Morgan receives more overall fees when internally managed strategies are included. We offer the option of choosing to exclude J.P. Morgan managed strategies (other than cash and liquidity products) in certain portfolios.

The Six Circles Funds are U.S.-registered mutual funds managed by J.P. Morgan and sub-advised by third parties. Although considered internally managed strategies, JPMC does not retain a fee for fund management or other fund services. 

LEGAL ENTITY, BRAND & REGULATORY INFORMATION

In the United States, bank deposit accounts and related services, such as checking, savings and bank lending, are offered by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and its affiliates (collectively “JPMCB”) offer investment products, which may include bank-managed investment accounts and custody, as part of its trust and fiduciary services. Other investment products and services, such as brokerage and advisory accounts, are offered through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”), a member of FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. JPMCB, JPMS and CIA are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

In Luxembourg, this material is issued by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. (JPMBL), with registered office at European Bank and Business Centre, 6 route de Treves, L-2633, Senningerberg, Luxembourg. R.C.S Luxembourg B10.958. Authorized and regulated by Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and jointly supervised by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the CSSF. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. is authorized as a credit institution in accordance with the Law of 5th April 1993. In the United Kingdom, this material is issued by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., London Branch. Prior to Brexit (Brexit meaning that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, or, if later, loses its ability to passport financial services between the United Kingdom and the remainder of the EEA), J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., London Branch is subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request. In the event of Brexit, in the United Kingdom, J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., London Branch is authorized by the Prudential Regulation Authority, subject to regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and limited regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request. In Spain, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Sucursal en España, with registered office at Paseo de la Castellana, 31, 28046 Madrid, Spain. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Sucursal en España is registered under number 1516 within the administrative registry of the Bank of Spain and supervised by the Spanish Securities Market Commission (CNMV). In Germany, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Frankfurt Branch, registered office at Taunustor 1 (TaunusTurm), 60310 Frankfurt, Germany, jointly supervised by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and the European Central Bank (ECB), and in certain areas also supervised by the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin). In Italy, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Milan Branch, registered office at Via Catena Adalberto 4, Milan 20121, Italy and regulated by Bank of Italy and the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB). In the Netherlands, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Amsterdam Branch, with registered office at World Trade Centre, Tower B, Strawinskylaan 1135, 1077 XX, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Amsterdam Branch is authorized and regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and jointly supervised by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the CSSF in Luxembourg; J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Amsterdam Branch is also authorized and supervised by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) and the Autoriteit Financiële Markten (AFM) in the Netherlands. Registered with the Kamer van Koophandel as a branch of J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. under registration number 71651845. In Denmark, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg, Copenhagen Br, filial af J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. with registered office at Kalvebod Brygge 39-41, 1560 København V, Denmark. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg, Copenhagen Br, filial af J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A.is authorized and regulated by Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and jointly supervised by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the CSSF. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg, Copenhagen Br, filial af J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. is also subject to the supervision of Finanstilsynet (Danish FSA) and registered with Finanstilsynet as a branch of J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. under code 29009. In Sweden, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Stockholm Bankfilial, with registered office at Hamngatan 15, Stockholm, 11147, Sweden. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Stockholm Bankfilial, is authorized and regulated by Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) and jointly supervised by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the CSSF. J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A., Stockholm Bankfilial is also subject to the supervision of Finansinspektionen (Swedish FSA). Registered with Finansinspektionen as a branch of J.P. Morgan Bank Luxembourg S.A. In France, this material is distributed by JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (“JPMCB”), Paris branch, which is regulated by the French banking authorities Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution and Autorité des Marchés Financiers. In Switzerland, this material is distributed by J.P. Morgan (Suisse) S.A., which is regulated in Switzerland by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

In Hong Kong, this material is distributed by JPMCB, Hong Kong branch. JPMCB, Hong Kong branch is regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, we will cease to use your personal data for our marketing purposes without charge if you so request. In Singapore, this material is distributed by JPMCB, Singapore branch. JPMCB, Singapore branch is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Dealing and advisory services and discretionary investment management services are provided to you by JPMCB, Hong Kong/Singapore branch (as notified to you). Banking and custody services are provided to you by JPMCB Singapore Branch. The contents of this document have not been reviewed by any regulatory authority in Hong Kong, Singapore or any other jurisdictions. You are advised to exercise caution in relation to this document. If you are in any doubt about any of the contents of this document, you should obtain independent professional advice. For materials that constitute product advertisement under the Securities and Futures Act and the Financial Advisers Act, this advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. is a national banking association chartered under the laws of the United States, and as a body corporate, its shareholder’s liability is limited.

With respect to countries in Latin America, the distribution of this material may be restricted in certain jurisdictions. We may offer and/or sell to you securities or other financial instruments that may not be registered under, and are not the subject of a public offering under, the securities or other financial regulatory laws of your home country. Such securities or instruments are offered and/or sold to you on a private basis only. Any communication by us to you regarding such securities or instruments, including without limitation the delivery of a prospectus, term sheet or other offering document, is not intended by us as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities or instruments in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or a solicitation is unlawful. Furthermore, such securities or instruments may be subject to certain regulatory and/or contractual restrictions on subsequent transfer by you, and you are solely responsible for ascertaining and complying with such restrictions. To the extent this content makes reference to a fund, the Fund may not be publicly offered in any Latin American country, without previous registration of such fund’s securities in compliance with the laws of the corresponding jurisdiction. Public offering of any security, including the shares of the Fund, without previous registration at Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission—CVM is completely prohibited. Some products or services contained in the materials might not be currently provided by the Brazilian and Mexican platforms.

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. (JPMCBNA) (ABN 43 074 112 011/AFS Licence No: 238367) is regulated by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority. Material provided by JPMCBNA in Australia is to “wholesale clients” only. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “wholesale client” has the meaning given in section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth). Please inform us if you are not a Wholesale Client now or if you cease to be a Wholesale Client at any time in the future.

JPMS is a registered foreign company (overseas) (ARBN 109293610) incorporated in Delaware, U.S.A. Under Australian financial services licensing requirements, carrying on a financial services business in Australia requires a financial service provider, such as J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (JPMS), to hold an Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL), unless an exemption applies. JPMS is exempt from the requirement to hold an AFSL under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (Act) in respect of financial services it provides to you, and is regulated by the SEC, FINRA and CFTC under U.S. laws, which differ from Australian laws. Material provided by JPMS in Australia is to “wholesale clients” only. The information provided in this material is not intended to be, and must not be, distributed or passed on, directly or indirectly, to any other class of persons in Australia. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term “wholesale client” has the meaning given in section 761G of the Act. Please inform us immediately if you are not a Wholesale Client now or if you cease to be a Wholesale Client at any time in the future.

This material has not been prepared specifically for Australian investors. It:

  • May contain references to dollar amounts which are not Australian dollars;
  • May contain financial information which is not prepared in accordance with Australian law or practices;
  • May not address risks associated with investment in foreign currency denominated investments; and
  • Does not address Australian tax issues.

References to “J.P. Morgan” are to JPM, its subsidiaries and affiliates worldwide. “J.P. Morgan Private Bank” is the brand name for the private banking business conducted by JPM.

This material is intended for your personal use and should not be circulated to or used by any other person, or duplicated for nonpersonal use, without our permission. If you have any questions or no longer wish to receive these communications, please contact your J.P. Morgan team. 

© 2020 JPMorgan Chase & Co. All rights reserved.

Check the background of Our Firm and Investment Professionals on FINRA's BrokerCheck

To learn more about J. P. Morgan’s investment business, including our accounts, products and services, as well as our relationship with you, please review our  J.P. Morgan Securities LLC Form CRS and  Guide to Investment Services and Brokerage Products.

This website is for informational purposes only, and not an offer, recommendation or solicitation of any product, strategy service or transaction. Any views, strategies or products discussed on this site may not be appropriate or suitable for all individuals and are subject to risks. Prior to making any investment or financial decisions, an investor should seek individualized advice from a personal financial, legal, tax and other professional advisors that take into account all of the particular facts and circumstances of an investor's own situation. 

This website provides information about the brokerage and investment advisory services provided by J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”). When JPMS acts as a broker-dealer, a client's relationship with us and our duties to the client will be different in some important ways than a client's relationship with us and our duties to the client when we are acting as an investment advisor. A client should carefully read the agreements and disclosures received (including our Form ADV disclosure brochure, if and when applicable) in connection with our provision of services for important information about the capacity in which we will be acting.

INVESTMENT AND INSURANCE PRODUCTS ARE: • NOT FDIC INSURED • NOT INSURED BY ANY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AGENCY • NOT A DEPOSIT OR OTHER OBLIGATION OF, OR GUARANTEED BY, JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A. OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES • SUBJECT TO INVESTMENT RISKS, INCLUDING POSSIBLE LOSS OF THE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT INVESTED
Equal Housing Opportunity logo

J.P. Morgan Chase Bank N.A., Member FDIC Not a commitment to lend. All extensions of credit are subject to credit approval 

“J.P. Morgan Securities” is a brand name for a wealth management business conducted by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (“JPMC”) and its subsidiaries worldwide. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. and its affiliates (collectively “JPMCB”) offer investment products, which may include bank managed accounts and custody, as part of its trust and fiduciary services. Other investment products and services, such as brokerage and advisory accounts, are offered through J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (“JPMS”), a member of FINRA and SIPC. Annuities are made available through Chase Insurance Agency, Inc. (CIA), a licensed insurance agency, doing business as Chase Insurance Agency Services, Inc. in Florida. JPMCB, JPMS and CIA are affiliated companies under the common control of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Products not available in all states.

Please read additional Important Information in conjunction with these pages.