Estate planning may involve concepts that are easy to understand, but when it comes to execution, one article questions whether clients get lost in the details. Specifically, the article suggests that individuals rely too much on their estate planner to promote their interests.
Estate Planning Is About Preserving Your Values
At our law firm, we believe that estate planning is about preserving one’s values. This may be expressed in how transfers are made to loved ones, conditions placed upon transfers, charitable giving, and many other ways. Yet an estate planner is not familiar with your family history, relationships and values. Said another way, a comprehensive estate planner can only work with the factual details he or she has been provided. This is why advance preparations can greatly facilitate the estate planning process.
Proactive Tips to Estate Planning
One key to prepare for an estate planning meeting is to make lists of one’s assets, loved ones that you intended to designate as beneficiaries, and any conditions that may be placed upon asset transfers to reflect values. For example, trusts are an excellent vehicle for preserving one’s values, such as a trust designated only for educational expenses, or medical needs, or any reason clearly stated in the trust documentation. If you arrive at the first meeting with these lists, your proactive preparations will allow the attorney to issue spot for common mistakes, such as overlooked retirement assets.
Another fatal mistake in estate planning involves follow-through. A comprehensive estate plan is little more than a collection of documents unless properly executed. Wills must comply with state law requirements to ensure their validity. Trusts must be funded, which means the assets must be retitled in the name of the trust. For non-probate assets, beneficiaries must be named. By working with a skilled law firm, an individual can take peace of mind that such procedures will be followed. Proper execution, in turn, may help to minimize the risk of later challenges to the will or the estate, such as a will contest.
Source: Forbes, “Avoiding 7 Deadly Estate Planning Mistakes,” Bob Carlson, Apr. 20, 2018