Estate planning is not just about what happens to your stuff when you die. It is about coordinating all aspects of your life so (i) you can be taken care of during times when you are unable to care for yourself, and (ii) your money and property are distributed to the individuals you have selected upon your death, in the way you want.
While you may visit an estate planning attorney to have your legal documents (i.e., will, revocable living trust, powers of attorney, and health care directive) prepared, this is only one component of making sure that your ultimate estate and financial goals are carried out. In order to accomplish this large and important task, you need a team made up of the right players.
An estate planning attorney helps by arranging your legal affairs so that trusted people are authorized to make decisions for you when you are unable and so that your money and property are handled and distributed as you desire after your death. As your legal counsel, we are well-versed in the strategies to accomplish this.
A financial advisor plays an important role by being able to understand your specific financial goals and investment objectives. He or she is able to craft a financial plan to ensure you have sufficient cash to meet your needs and live the lifestyle you want. They can also help ensure that there are ample resources available at death to pass on to your loved ones. If you are an individual with a high net worth, financial planning often moves beyond retirement planning to laying the foundation for multigenerational wealth transfer or achieving philanthropic objectives.
An insurance professional provides an analysis of your current and future insurance needs. For many estate planning strategies, life insurance is critical to ensuring that there are funds available to take care of all your beneficiaries. This is especially true if you own your own business or have other large accounts or valuable pieces of property that are difficult to divide between beneficiaries.
An accountant or CPA brings valuable tax planning strategies to the planning process. Although much of the focus in estate planning has historically been on estate taxes, a comprehensive plan must consider the impact of all taxes you and your beneficiaries may owe. While you may have great goals for the future, we want to make sure that they are not achieved at too high of a tax cost.
Employing a large number of advisors to assist you can seem like an overwhelming task and only necessary for the very wealthy, but everyone can benefit from this comprehensive approach. When everyone is on the same page, your team can work together seamlessly behind the scenes to make sure everything is taken care of.
Although the following list is not exhaustive, if you find that any of the following apply to you, then you will benefit from comprehensive estate planning
Your will or trust is old
Your existing trust is unfunded
You have minor children
You have a child with special needs
Your child is bad at handling money or susceptible to other legal claims
You have gotten remarried and are now part of a blended family
You have gotten divorced or been widowed
You are unmarried but in a committed relationship
You are in a same-sex marriage
You own a large retirement account
You have charitable interests
You own your own business
Your children wear fur coats (you have a pet(s))
We are happy to work with any of your existing advisors or provide you with recommendations for advisors if you are interested in engaging their services. Please click here to schedule an appointment to review your existing plan or draft a comprehensive new estate plan using the team approach.