We received a newsletter not long ago that introducing 3 steps to Estate Planning. These steps come from the National Network of Estate Planning Attorneys Incorporated, obviously wanting to educate you as the public on the importance of Estate Planning and how I, as an attorney, can help you!
It’s not about the documents – It’s about results! The key to proper estate planning is clear, comprehensive, customized instruction for your own care and that of your loved ones. These instructions can be included in a Will, a Trust, and in several other related documents. We find that most of our clients are best served with a combination of these tools, backed up the Three Step Strategy.
Step 1: work with a counselling-oriented Attorney
(As opposed to a word processing-oriented Attorney). We fear that much of what passes for estate planning in the country is little more than word processing! We don’t believe you should pay a licensed professional to do word processing. Their value is in their counsel and advice, based on knowledge, wisdom, and experience. If word processing is all you want, you may as well do it yourself! But if you want an estate plan that works, seek good counseling.
Step 2: establish and maintain a formal updating program
An estate plan faces a myriad of changes. First, there is constant change in your personal, family, and financial situation. Secondly, there is constant change in both tax law and non-tax law that impacts you estate plan. Third, there is constant change in your attorney’s experience and expertise. Your professional advisors are continually improving through ongoing education and collected experience.
Since everything constantly changes, you cannot expect a plan to accomplish what it was intended to accomplish if it is never updated, The costs of failing to update are typically far greater than the cost of keeping your plan current.
Step 3: assure fully-disclosed and controlled settlement costs after your death
The cost of any estate plan has three parts: the part you pay for counselling and design up front (or for word processing); the part you pay for updating (or the larger cost of failing to update); and the part your loved ones pay after death. Regardless of documents, there are always after-death costs.
Wills go through probate. Trusts have to be settled. in either case, assets must be transferred and often a death tax return must be prepared. Be sure you are discussing all the parts of the cost with your attorney before you begin to plan. Understand what all the costs will be in advance, and ask how they can be controlled.
The Importance of the Team Approach
Creating an estate plan is not difficult, but it does require in involvement of all you professional advisors: you attorney, your accountant, and your financial and insurance advisors. If all the professionals are included in the planning, you are much more likely to have a plan that works. If not, you may receive conflicting advice that leads to confusion and inaction.
We suggest that you allow us to involve you other advisors in your planning, and keep them apprised of steps you are taking. That way everyone is fully informed and has a chance to offer their particular expertise to the process.
A PROPER ESTATE PLAN MEETS YOUR GOALS AND KEEPS YOU IN CONTROL OF THE PROCESS AND THE RESULTS!
To learn more, please Contact us and let us help you plan your future! WE ARE HERE TO HELP! Other related articles include: Two Things Your Will Won’t Do, 4 Things People Forget to Include in Their Estate Plan, and 10 Reasons to have a WILL.