Becoming a Client
3 Basic Fundamentals of Estate Planning
#1 – People: Who Matters to You?
Who’re the VIP’s in your life? Starting off with yourself, these probably include your family: your partner if you are married, kids and grandchildren if you have any, maybe your parents, siblings or other extended relatives. Beyond this, “Very Important People” could also include charitable organizations, special causes, schools or universities, and even religious organizations you’re committed to. For many, “VIPs” could even include your animals! Spend a while considering the affect others have had on your time on this planet. Make yourself a list and jot down notes if you’d like. This is truly where the preparation process begins.
#2 – Your Assets & Property
Make yourself a shortlist of the assets you control or own. At this stage, you don’t need to worry about your policy numbers and exact dollar values. Instead, think through your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.); their economic value in thousands of dollars; and then your ownership interest: Do you own assets in your name only, in joint tenancy with someone else, or through a trust agreement or some other arrangement? Be certain to include often-overlooked assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests, and any inheritance you anticipate receiving. Having a solid understanding of the nature and the value of your financial assets will help you understand the types of planning that are most appropriate for you and it may also give you some ideas on how you’d like these holdings managed and allotted after you’re gone.
#3 – Strategic Planning Phase
Who would you appoint to make decisions on your behalf if you were no longer able to do so yourself? Would this person also manage your finances and your personal or health care decisions? Who would you choose to care for your minor children? Consider how you’d like to distribute your assets to your heirs. Would you prefer to spare your heirs the potential cost and hassles of the probate procedure? Would you like to reduce the impact of estate taxes … or maximize the effect of a charitable bequest? Is there anyone in your family with special needs that you’d like to provide for? Perhaps you know someone who probably shouldn’t receive a good deal of money without additional outside oversight? Our experienced planning attorneys will help you craft your needs into a sustainable lifetime and post-mortem plan that puts YOU in control of your destiny.
These are just a few of the issues to consider when approaching the planning process. They are much more important than the “treasure hunt” for legal documents at this stage.
When You Are Ready
When you are ready to schedule a consultation, please call 509-328-2150 or sign up to attend a FREE Estate Planning Seminar near you.