The Importance of Estate Planning & Steps Toward Implementation

The Importance of Estate Planning & Steps Toward Implementation

By Sean R. Kelley, Esq.

As necessary as Estate Planning is, only about half of all Americans have an Estate Plan. Most probably think a Trust is too expensive or will take a long time to complete. Others may have difficulty in finding an Estate Planning Attorney that they trust, or one that will meet after business hours.

Estate Planning starts with a desire to have the peace of mind that your estate can pass to your beneficiaries free of interference from the Federal Government, to suffer the least amount of Tax possible, and to be administered in such a way as to preserve the family unit.

Preserving the Family Unit

How many times have you heard of a fight emerging after a family member has died? Brothers and sisters battle for houses, money, cars and assets with vigor and aggression; which often results in a devastating disagreement that can last decades.

Our friends at Kelley Law ensure that your documents are efficiently drawn, but also that the practical administration or execution of your Trust occurs without the usual animosity between siblings or beneficiaries. Avoiding this battle begins with communication. Communication is necessary between you and your spouse and between you and your children or beneficiaries.

Explaining your choices, describing your wishes, and encouraging an environment through in-person communication while you are alive or letter and videos at the time of your death can ease your loved ones through the process of grieving, and aid to mend family strife and preserve the family unit.

Avoiding Government Intrusion

Your legacy is a private and personal process that should be free of intrusion by the Federal Government. A benefit of having a trust is that your wishes, assets and the bulk of your estate remain private. Traditionally, you do not have to file or submit your Trust to any government agency, and thus, it is seen and administered only to and by your Trustee and Beneficiaries.

In an age of government oversight, a well-drafted Estate Plan allows your personal and financial affairs to be kept just that—private.

From www.aefonline.org:

While having a good Estate Planning Attorney is essential, here are 6 steps to get you started in the right direction:

Step 1: Define your Estate Planning Goals:

  • What do you want to happen?
  • How do your assets get distributed? Family, friends, charity, etc.?
  • Who will handle your estate?
  • What are your concerns about privacy and family harmony as it relates to your estate?
  • Do you know if you are affected by estate taxes?

Step 2: Gather and Organize your Financial Data:

  • Gather your documents.
  • Determine your net worth.
  • Review your beneficiary selections.
  • Determine how you hold title to property.

Step 3: Analyze & Discuss:

Step 4: Develop your Estate Strategies:

  • What strategies are best for your circumstances?
  • Build your estate plan.

Step 5: Implement your Estate Plan:

  • Draft, review, edit, and then sign estate planning documents.
  • Coordinate title to your properties and beneficiary selections with your plan.
  • Where will your documents be located? Does the person who will handle your estate know where your documents are located?

Step 6: Track & Monitor your Progress:

  • Check your estate plan annually or any time your family situation changes.

By working through these six basic steps, you will be able organize a difficult task into a manageable one.

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