Estate planning is an important aspect of comprehensive financial planning. Without an estate plan, it is likely your assets will get divided in an undesirable way. Having an estate attorney you don’t like working with can also cause the same problems.
Estate planning is terribly difficult and miserably necessary. We help our clients find an attorney they like, get an estate plan drafted with him or her, and revisit that estate plan periodically.
Essential estate planning documents are:
- Last Will and Testament to catch any assets which might end up in probate, declare guardianship, and handle the distribution of tangible property.
- Trust Agreement to avoid probate where possible while still implementing any complex wishes or tax avoidance strategies you may desire.
- Advanced Medical Directive to give someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are ever incapacitated.
- Power of Attorney to give someone the authority to manage your affairs on your behalf if you are ever incapacitated.
In addition to these documents, beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and other financial assets should be utilized to further direct your assets. Designated beneficiary plans, such as Transfer on Death, should also be considered for regular checking or brokerage accounts, cars, houses, and other titled assets.
As a part of our estate planning service, we read estate plans to assess overall fit with the client’s long-term financial plan and proper implementation across known assets. If you aren’t sure how you want to leave your assets, we can also help you discern what your estate planning objectives really are and some basic implementation ideas to take to the estate attorney.
The death of a spouse or family member is a vulnerable time. Going through the estate settlement process with unfamiliar professionals is scary and isolating. The foresight of establishing a relationship with a trustworthy fee-only advisor can provide a vital link of financial continuity.
When we accept a client, we see the relationship as a lifetime partnership and are committed to widows and widowers through even the worst of times. Even after the surviving spouse dies, we make ourselves available to the surviving family in aiding with the estate settlement if they desire our services.