To put it simply, estate planning involves deciding how you want your assets distributed after you die (or become unable to make your own financial decisions). Estate planning can be complicated, so it’s best to consult a financial adviser and a lawyer when drawing up your estate plan. Regardless of your net worth, it’s important to have a basic estate plan in place Although it may seem like a morbid chore, estate planning offers several benefits:
- You name the people to receive your assets — and your wishes will be legally binding.
- You arrange it so that taxes siphon as little as possible from your estate.
- You have the satisfaction of knowing that your financial affairs are in order, so you won’t bequeath a costly administrative nightmare to your loved ones.
An estate plan can include several elements:
- A Will — Assignment of power of attorney, which gives the person you name the authority to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so.
- A Living Will — which is a statement of your wishes for the kind of life-sustaining medical intervention you want, or don’t want; in the event that you become terminally ill and unable to communicate.
- A healthcare proxy, which authorizes someone you trust to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- A durable Power of Attorney- in case you ever become incompetent in your ability to make financial decisions.
Planners who are registered to sell financial products may help you with financial planning without any extra charge. Instead, they receive commissions on any investments you make. In this case, make sure your planner is putting your interests first – not buying and selling investments that will help them earn more.
- Insurance – Tax – Retirement – Investment Planning
- Estate Tax Reduction
- Charitable Gifting Strategies
- Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Programs
- Pension & Profit Sharing Plans – Private Pension Plans
- Disability Income Protection
- Key-Person Loss Indemnification
- Executive Salary Continuation Programs
Seek an Estate Planning Attorney that is specifically versed in your topic of choice.
Wading through the mountains of information regarding retirement and estate planning is an ominous task. It requires an understanding of most, if not all, areas of personal finance and it involves making predictions about lifestyle, health and prices for a period of time in the future.
- Know what has been done in the area of Estate Planning on behalf of your loved one.
- Gather paperwork to support existing wills, financial instruments, etc.
- What are the areas (health, finances, estate) where you are most uncomfortable?
- Be specific about the subject matter of highest priority.
- Check the credentials of the chosen party. (Wall plaques often announce degrees.)
- Define the steps related to financial planning you will walk us through.
- What are his/her responsibilities as the advisor? What is our responsibility as the client?
- What documents will he or she provide to you?
- Understand the length of time and number of clients your planner has served.
- Request referrals to discuss the process and the outcome.
- Most Estate Planning Attorneys will provide an initial free consultation.