Estate planning is an integral part of a comprehensive financial plan particularly for those with children and business owners. A quality estate plan consists of more than just executing a will, trust, or other proper estate planning documents. Properly titling assets, life insurance planning, beneficiary planning for retirement accounts, annuities, and other financial accounts are all part of a complete estate plan.
Many think that estate planning is just for the wealthy, or that estate planning is all about minimizing estate taxes. While estate planning is important for the wealthy and minimizing estate taxes can increase the net inheritance to beneficiaries, there is much more to estate planning than just passing down wealth from one generation to the next in a tax efficient manner. With the new federal estate tax laws, estate tax minimization strategies are unnecessary for the majority of Americans. What drives most estate planning decisions is the family dynamics, which may include medical issues, addiction, and other behavioral issues, or blended families.
During the estate planning process, we will review your financial situation, discuss your family dynamics, listen to your goals and concerns, explain the issues relevant to your situation, and discuss your options with you to formulate a plan. We will walk you through all of the actions needed to execute your plan necessary to achieve your estate planning objectives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Estate planning is for everyone, not just for the wealthy. An estate plan creates an outline of intentions for your assets which can minimize disputes after your death and can help to minimize estate taxes.
Every estate plan begins with a consultation. We meet with our clients and have an in-depth conversation with them about their life, marital status, family dynamic, assets and goals for their estate plan. Using that information, we can determine the package that would best suit their family’s needs.
The biggest misconception about estate planning is that you don’t need an estate plan unless you have significant assets. Many people assume that their belongings will automatically be shared amongst their loved ones after they pass away. Without an estate plan, state laws will dictate what happens upon your death or incapacitation. Thus, your estate would be distributed under the laws of intestacy and go through probate – a court supervised proceeding, which can be expensive and inefficient and may not achieve the results that are right for you or your family.
Prior to your appointment, we’ll send you a package of information for you to review. Included in the package is a questionnaire that will help you detail and inventory your assets. We ask that you complete this questionnaire and provide it to us prior to your appointment so we have an opportunity to review beforehand.
Next, we ask that you start to gather your most recent statements from bank accounts, investment accounts, deeds to all property (in state or out of state), life insurance policy information, business information (if you’re a business owner), and retirement plan statements. This is just a starting point and we understand if you’re unable to find everything. Please keep all documents in the folder that came with your packet and bring it with you to your appointment.