The Truth About Estate Planning

Most people have some idea what estate planning is about, but much of what they “know” is actually false! Before we work with clients, we want them to recognize that the “truth” about estate planning is probably different than they thought. See what you think of the following statements. Our “Truth About Estate Planning” workshops go into the details behind these matters, so come sometime for more information.

  • Estate planning is a Process, not an event. Every estate plan goes through three steps. (1) My plan is developed and written. (2) Time will pass until my plan is needed, during which changes in me, my assets and the law often cause my plan to fall out of date. (3) Administration of my plan at my death or disability.
  • The Three Step Strategy™ allows me to stay in control throughout the estate planning process. (1) Working with a counselling oriented attorney lets me learn what is possible and then develop my plan to do whatever I want. (2) A formal updating program will assure that I keep it current, and that my family and I stay in touch with it. (3) Getting settlement fee disclosure and commitments now keeps my family from losing control at my death.
  • There is no Magic Book that will free me from ever working with an attorney again! Therefore, I need to have a comfortable relationship with an attorney who follows the Three Step Strategy™ so my plan will be kept current. “Call if you need to update” will fail in the long run as a way of keeping my plan up-to-date. Just leaving my family to “call the attorney” after my death would put the attorney in control of my plan and the costs at that point, so I need an attorney who will fully disclose and limit those costs.
  • I need to take a more active role than I realized. If people just have the lawyer “draw up” a will or trust, then on death or disability the attorneys usually have to go into “clean up” mode. If I am proactive, with me and my family more involved in the process, we lower our attorney fees overall.
  • Estate Planning requires teamwork! I can trust and follow the advice I will get from my different professionals if I get them to confer and agree on the advice they are giving me.
  • My estate plan won’t work without proper asset titling. Proper asset titling is crucial to the success of my estate plan, whether my plan is designed as a will or a trust. The will or trust is my instructions to my family … I need to review all asset titles and make sure the assets will follow my instructions.
  • Estate Planning is about my personal goals more than avoiding probate and taxes. Personal goals can include things like: how I want to live my life; how I want my spouse and children cared for; how my children should be raised even if I die early; what priorities I have for my heirs’ education; protecting my spouse (and my assets for my children) from a new spouse after my death; keeping control of my assets and my care within the family in the event of my disability; protecting my estate from nursing home costs; protecting assets from divorces or creditors of the children even after they inherit; and promoting my family and spiritual values.
  • I understand how attorneys charge. Attorney fees for estate planning are always some percentage of the estate, no matter how they are calculated. The LifeSpan Investment Selector™ allocation of the fees allows me to explore all planning options, be totally open and honest with my attorney, and reduce my costs at the same time.
  • Group education is less expensive than one-on-one and will help keep my overall legal costs down. Common legal things that will need to be updated and the preparation of my family for administration of my plan can be explained in group meetings to help save my family a lot in fees.
  • I can have peace of mind, knowing that my Estate Plan will work! I can do it through the proactive and systematic process of the LifeSpan Three Step Strategy™.

If any of these things seem difficult to accept, we invite you to attend one of our Client Orientation Workshops for more of the background information. Come learn with us; bring your family members and your professional advisors.