Estate planning is not just about what happens to your stuff when you die.
It is about coordinating all aspects of your life so you can be taken care of during times when you are unable to care for yourself, and ensuring your money and property are distributed to the individuals you have selected upon your death, in the way you want.
While you may visit an estate planning attorney to have your legal documents (i.e., will, revocable living trust, powers of attorney, and living will) prepared, this is only one component of making sure that your ultimate estate and financial goals are carried out. In order to accomplish this large and important task, you need a team made up of the right players.
Your Starting Lineup
An estate planning attorney helps by arranging your legal affairs so that trusted people are authorized to make decisions for you when you are unable and so that your money and property are handled and distributed as you desire after your death. At DLG, we are well-versed in the strategies to accomplish this and are ready to help you.
A financial advisor plays an important role by being able to understand your specific financial goals and investment objectives. He or she is able to craft a financial plan to ensure you have sufficient cash to meet your needs and live the lifestyle you want during all stages of life. They can also help ensure that there are ample resources available at death to pass on to your loved ones, if that’s your desire. If you are an individual with a high net worth, financial planning often moves beyond retirement planning to laying the foundation for multigenerational wealth transfer or achieving philanthropic objectives. These plans work directly with your legal estate plan, making both team mates very necessary for the growth and transfer of wealth.
An insurance professional provides an analysis of your current and future insurance needs. For many estate planning strategies, life insurance is critical to ensuring that there are funds available to take care of all your beneficiaries as well as your end-of-life and funeral costs. This is especially true if you own your own business or have other large accounts or valuable pieces of property that are difficult to divide between beneficiaries.
An accountant or CPA brings valuable tax planning strategies to the planning process. Although much of the focus in estate planning has historically been on estate taxes, a comprehensive plan must consider the impact of all taxes you and your beneficiaries may owe. While you may have great goals for the future, we want to make sure that they are not achieved at too high of a tax cost, and a CPA is the best player for this position.
A spiritual advisor can offer insight and provide guidance to help you express what matters most to you. They can help you share lessons, stories, and experiences, along with moral, personal, and spiritual values with the next generation through your estate and financial plans. By approaching your planning from a spiritual or value-based perspective, you can shape how you are remembered. Planning with a focus on your morals, values, and beliefs also provides valuable context for your family about why an estate or financial plan is designed in the way it is and how your family can continue your traditions and use what has been left to them in a responsible and charitable way. The person in your life who fills this position may be different for everyone. From a pastor to a trusted friend to a spouse – find someone who understands your personal goals and values and who you trust to give heartfelt advice.
Do You Really Need a Team This Big?
Engaging a large number of advisors to assist you can seem overwhelming or you may think it’s only necessary for the very wealthy, but everyone can benefit from this comprehensive approach, and the simpler your financial situation, the lower the cost of all of these services. Like recruiting the best player to your team – sometimes it takes an investment in those around you to get you to those big wins. And when everyone is on the same page, your team can work together seamlessly behind the scenes to make sure everything is taken care of.
Although the following list is not exhaustive, if you find that any of the following apply to you, then you will benefit from comprehensive estate planning.
- Your will or trust is more than three years old
- Your existing trust is unfunded (assets have not been titled in the trust)
- You have minor children
- You have a child with special needs
- Your child is bad at handling money or susceptible to other legal claims
- You have gotten remarried and are now part of a blended family
- You have gotten divorced or been widowed
- You are unmarried but in a committed relationship
- You own a large retirement account
- You have charitable interests
- You own your own business
We Are Here to Help You Get Started
Our established and experienced estate planning attorneys at DLG work with many other advisors and CPAs to help our clients make the best plan their goals. If you don’t have these other advisors, but understand the importance of finding them, we are happy to provide you with recommendations for those team players we trust the most. Call us today to schedule an appointment to review your existing plan or draft a comprehensive new estate plan using this team approach.