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How We Work Together to Build an Estate Plan

Studies show more than 70% of individuals either do not have any type of estate plan in place, or their current estate plan is old and out-of-date. This is a scary statistic because it foretells problems for families and possibly communities. Many clients move forward with their planning only after they see the devastation created when a friend or family member passes away with no planning in place. Why are so many people reluctant to plan? Is estate planning really that complicated and difficult?

The quick answer is no. It doesn’t have to be. Working with a professional, individuals can understand and plan for the future without confusion or unecessary complications. Our firm has found that once a client takes that initial step, the rest of the process flows downhill. We do all we can to make the process as simple as possible.

So what does the client provide to help build their own trust-based estate plan? We begin with basic information, name, address, birthday, etc. Then we give the client a list of key things to consider before their design meeting with us. Knowing some of these answers, or preparing questions to help make decisions, sets the stage for a productive design meeting. We then discuss each item in detail in order to build a comprehensive plan.

12 Things for Clients to Consider Before Their Design Meeting

Here are 12 items for clients to consider before their design meeting:

1. If you pass away tomorrow, WHO do you want to actually receive your assets?

2. HOW will these beneficiaries actually receive your assets? There are multiple answers to this question. Variables like the age and needs of the beneficiary, how much asset protection you want to provide to the beneficiary, etc. contribute to this answer. This is the most commonly discussed item in our design meetings.

3. What percentage of your assets are in an IRA, 401(k) or other retirement funds? How important is it to give your beneficiaries control over these assets after your passing?

4. If your targeted beneficiary is not alive when you pass away, then what contingency should we build for where these assets will go? We’ll discuss how the assets could end up with an alternate beneficiary.

5. If you become mentally disabled, who do you want to mange your assets and take care of you financially? We’ll discuss a plan for the person you identify for the role of Disability Trustee.

6. When you do pass away, who do you trust to make sure your plan is carried out as provided in your trust document? This person, or company, will become the Death Trustee, a key person for the ultimate success of the plan. We’ll discuss alternatives in detail to help you make this decision.

7. Do you have minor children? Who do you want to raise them if you cannot? Who do you trust to be their legal guardian until each child reaches age 18? The guardian will work closely with your Death Trustee. We’ll guide you in setting up the parameters for this important relationship.

8. Who do you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself? What additional healthcare items do we need to discuss and include in the plan? In the meeting we will provide some other considerations and options.

9. If a business is involved, who do you want running the business? And how will this person interact with your Death Trustee for the ongoing success of the business?

10. What types of assets do you have, how are they currently owned, and if there are beneficiaries, who are they? We’ll review all of these in detail, and help you decide what happens to these assets if you become mentally disabled or are no longer with us.

11. How do you envision paying for any of your future long-term care needs?

12. What are your plans for the future, and how do we need to adjust any part of your plan for pending events or plans?

This list is not the sum total of everything discussed in an estate planning design meeting. Of course, there are tax considerations and related items. However, in today’s tax environment, most clients have similar needs. So clients can rest easy. Building or updating a trust-based estate plan need not be complicated or intimidating. An estate planner’s ultimate goal is to provide peace of mind about the future.

Schedule a No-Cost Review of Your Existing Situation or Estate Plan

We offer a no-cost initial consultation for estate planning matters. After listening to your general wishes for your estate and your family, we will carefully walk you through the various alternatives.

Remember, we consider your unique needs and situation. If trusts are your best option, we will tell you, but if Will-based estate plans, or other alternatives, are in your best interest, we will happily provide those as well. Ultimately, you will make the decision that determines which type of plan to create.

Let us help you make an informed choice. Contact our office at 913-345-2323 so we can discuss options and answer any of your questions. We look forward to assisting you in understanding all the benefits your estate plan can bring to you and your family.