The Truth About Estate Planning
Most people have some idea of 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 from what 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pass before my plan is needed, during which, changes in myself, my assets, and the law will often cause my plan to fall out of date. (3) My plan is administrated 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 my plan current, and that my family and I stay in touch with it. (3) Getting a commitment from my attorney now concerning settlement fees 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 that my plan will be kept current. The "call us if you need to update" policy will fail in the long run as a means of keeping my plan up-to-date. Leaving my family to "call the attorney" after my death puts that attorney in control of my plan and of the costs at that point, so I need an attorney who will fully disclose and limit those costs now.
- I need to take a more active role than I realized. If people just have their lawyers "draw up" a will or trust, then at the time of their death or disability the attorneys usually have to go into "clean up" mode. If I am proactive, with myself 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 as a trust. The will or trust is my instructions to my family ... I need to review all asset titles to make sure that the assets will follow my instructions.
- Estate Planning is about my personal goals more than about 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 if I die early; what priorities I have for my heirs’ education; how I want to protect my spouse (and my assets for my children) from a new spouse after my death; how to keep the control of my assets and my care within the family in the event of my disability; how to protect my estate from nursing home costs; how to protect assets from divorces and creditors of my children even after they have already inherited; and how to promote my family and spiritual values.
- I understand how attorneys charge. Attorney fees for estate planning always consist of some percentage of the estate, regardless of how they are calculated. The LifeSpan Investment Selector™ allocation of 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 matters that will need to be updated and the preparation of my family for administration of my plan can each 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 statements seem difficult to accept, we invite you to attend one of our Client Orientation Workshops for more background information. Come learn with us; bring your family members and your professional advisors. (See the "Client Orientation" and "Introductory Workshops" pages)
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
©2005, revised 2014, Curt W. Ferguson, all rights reserved.