Everyone Should Have An Estate Plan

Everyone who is reached the age of majority (18 years of age or older) should have an estate plan in place, even if you have not accumulated a substantial amount of property. With that in mind there are two basic core types of estate plans.

Basic Estate Planning

Basic estate planning is generally what people expect in the marketplace. This includes basic documents that provide limited protection but are superior to doing nothing at all.

We call this process Estate Plans are For Everyone™. If you prefer this process we will work with you through a streamlined system to get some basic protection in place, help you understand the benefits and limitations of this type of planning, and help you understand how you must hold your assets to produce the results available through basic planning.

An alternative to Estate Plans are For Everyone™ is to develop an Empowered Estate Plan™.

  • An Empowered Estate Plan™ is a more in-depth and thorough approach designed to ensure that your intended goals are accomplished.
  • Empowered Estate Planning™ is a relationship based approach that involves three distinct steps to develop implement and settle an effective estate plan.

Estate Planning Is Not About Documents – It’s About Results!

We find that most of our clients are best served with a combination of legal tools, backed up by the Three Step Strategy™ of Empowered Estate Planning™.

Step One: A Focus On Client Counseling

Empowered Estate Planning™ includes thorough legal counseling. A legal counselor will help you consider the pros and cons of the wide array of opportunities you have available in estate planning, opportunities like these:

  1. Laying out instructions for your own care in case of your disability so your children don’t have to feel guilty for making the hard decisions about your care;
  2. Achieving “predator” (divorce and lawsuit) protection for your heirs;
  3. Making sure your young children are raised the way you want;
  4. Making sure your spouse is not “taken advantage of” for their money after you’re gone;
  5. Making sure money is available when your heirs are pursuing education the way you want them to;
  6. Avoiding estate taxes without giving up other protections that may be more important to you;
  7. Minimizing legal and other professional fees throughout the entire estate planning process.

Many of the most popular options our clients choose are opportunities the client had never thought of, or heard about, before we mentioned it to them. A counseling-oriented attorney will draw on his or her experience – sort of a database of different planning ideas and options – and probe the innumerable possibilities for your family.

Step Two: Establish & Maintain A Formal Updating Program

An estate plan faces a myriad of changes. First, there is the constant change in your personal, family and financial situation. Second, there is constant change in both tax laws and other laws that affect your estate plan. And third, there is constant change in your attorney’s experience and expertise. Your professional advisors are – or should be – continually improving through ongoing education and collected experience.

Since so many estate planning issues are constantly changing, no legal paper can be expected to fully accomplish what it was intended to accomplish unless it is regularly updated. Why not have a periodic review with your estate planning attorney to update your asset titling, review your goals, and update the legal documents to reflect current law? Fees would be prohibitive, you say? Okay, if fees are minimal and predictable, then why not do it? We deliver that systematic updating service to our clients.

Step Three: Assure Fully-Disclosed & Controlled Settlement Costs After Your Death

The cost of any estate plan has three parts: the part you pay for counseling and design at the beginning; the part you pay for updating periodically (or the larger cost of failing to keep the plan up-to-date); and the part your loved ones pay after your death to carry out your instructions for dividing and distributing your property.

Upon your death or disability, a change of control takes place, assets must be transferred, and often tax issues have to be addressed. Professional fees will be incurred. When you are discussing the cost of estate planning with anyone, be sure you are discussing – getting commitments, estimates, etc. – of the total cost of all three parts of the plan before you begin to plan.

Our Settlement Security System™ is a prearranged process to provide your family with the preparation, guidance, and support they need to navigate the transition following your disability or death, allowing the process to go smoothly for your family.

Quality design, effective maintenance, and preparation of your family for your eventual disability or death are key elements to having a plan that is cost-effective and less hassle for your family. Understanding what to expect and preparing for moving through the steps that need to be taken after your disability or death is simply a better way to plan. It’s certainly better than telling your kids where to find a set of instructions that they will need to carry out, but not giving them the tools, resources or support to effectively handle the matter when the time comes.

Our goal is to make sure you understand the options available in estate planning, and that you are able to choose the option that that best fits your needs.