How to Create an Estate Plan

Apr. 14, 2022

There are two main reasons why people delay or altogether avoid estate planning:

  1. It forces you to confront your own mortality, which most people find uncomfortable as you’re forced to think about death, especially one’s own.
  2. It requires you to make difficult decisions that may impact the people closest to you.

While there's always a reason to delay planning, not having an estate plan can prevent you from achieving your goals (not to mention it will ultimately put unnecessary stress on your family). Instead, having an estate plan allows you to define how your assets will flow to the next generation and which individuals will assist with your personal and financial affairs.

Where should you start? The first step in creating an estate plan is to choose experts that you trust.

Estate planning is an area of the law that can be quite complicated, so it's important to find an attorney who specializes in estate planning. Using an experienced attorney, instead of taking a DIY approach or using an online service, ensures that your assets pass as you intend, minimize the potential of tax implications and probate. Once you select one, we recommended using this estate planning checklist, included in our guidebook, to help you prepare for your first meeting with your estate attorney.

Another key member of your planning team should be an accountant. He or she will understand the potential tax consequences of your estate plan. Since estate planning tools can be used for tax efficiency purposes, it’s best to include your accountant from the start.

Finally, because estate planning is about more than just a Will or Trust, your financial advisor should be a part of your estate planning team. He or she will ensure your estate plan strategically fits into your overall financial plan while confirming you’ll meet your goals.

The Role of Estate Planning in Your Total Financial Plan

We know that creating and maintaining a thoughtful estate plan is the most effective way to transfer wealth to future generations.

However, it is important to remember that your estate plan is just one piece of your total financial plan.

Today's complex financial markets, new tax laws, updated legislation, and your unique planning needs require that all of your advisors are working in a coordinated way to help you achieve your financial goals. This coordination can be summarized in these six keys to a successful wealth management plan:

  1. Estate Planning
  2. Tax Planning
  3. Asset Protection
  4. Personal Trust Services
  5. Financial Planning
  6. Investment Management

Life events, tax, or legal changes can cause your estate plan to become outdated, so it's important to keep your estate plan up-to-date as your life changes.

Building Your Legacy with an Estate Plan: A Guide for You and Your Family

For more, download our Estate Planning Guidebook, which includes planning recommendations for a variety of life stages and scenarios, a checklist to help you get started, and more.

Get your copy

Consult with an attorney or a tax or financial advisor regarding your specific legal, tax, estate planning, or financial situation. The information in this article is not intended as legal or tax advice.

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