Estate planning is not just about what happens to your stuff when you die. It is about coordinating all aspects of your life so (1) you can be taken care of during times when you are unable to care for yourself, and (2) your money, assets, and property are distributed to the individuals you have selected upon your death, in the way you want.
You should plan with an estate planning attorney to have your legal documents (will, revocable living trust, powers of attorney, and healthcare documents) prepared. But the legal planning is only one piece of the planning that is needed to make 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.
Introducing the Team
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. Historically, much of the focus in estate planning has been on estate taxes, but now, income tax considerations, treatment of retirement assets, and basis adjustment are part of a comprehensive plan that addresses 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.
A spiritual advisor can offer insight and provide guidance to help you express what matters most to you. They can help you share lessons, stories, and experiences, along with moral, personal, and spiritual values with the next generation through your estate and financial plans. By approaching your planning from a spiritual or value-based perspective, you can shape how you are remembered. Planning with a focus on your morals, values, and beliefs also provides valuable context for your family about why an estate or financial plan is designed in the way it is and how your family can continue your traditions and use what has been left to them in a responsible and charitable way.
Who Needs This Type of Planning?
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 has not been reviewed in the last 2-3 years
- You are not sure that your assets are aligned with your existing trust
- You have minor children
- You have a child with special needs
- You have concerns about how your child handles money
- Your child is susceptible to legal claims
- You have remarried and are now part of a blended family
- You have divorced or been widowed
- You are unmarried but in a committed relationship
- You are in a same-sex marriage
- Your retirement account is your largest asset
- You have charitable interests
- You own your own business
- Your children wear fur coats (you have a pet(s))
We Are Here to Help You Get Started
Your needs and interests are best met when you work with a planning team, looking at helping you to build a comprehensive plan. We are happy to work with your existing advisors or provide you with recommendations for advisors if you are interested in engaging their services. Call us today to schedule an appointment to review your existing plan or draft a comprehensive new estate plan using the team approach.