At Legacy Counsellors, P.C., we like to make sure that our clients understand that their estate plan touches everyone they love, and everything they have. Their plan touches the important people and entities in their life, the property or assets that they’ve obtained, and the plans that they have for the future whether it comes to their belongings, or their plans at their disability and at their death. The first step in the estate planning process is to ask our clients what this means to them and what they want to preserve and protect.
First, we ask: Who are the important people in your life?
Beginning with yourself, this will also likely include your loved ones: your spouse if you are married, children and grandchildren if you have any, perhaps your parents, siblings or other relatives. Beyond these, however, "important people" also could include charities, special causes, colleges or universities, or churches to which you are committed. For some, "important people" could even include pets. Spend some time thinking about the impact others have had on your life. Make a list and jot notes if you like. This is where the planning process truly begins.
Next, we ask for a list of your assets.
Make a list of the assets you own or control. At this point, you do not need to identify insurance policy numbers and exact dollar values. Rather think through your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.); their value in thousands of dollars; and your ownership interest: Do you own assets in your name only, in joint tenancy with someone else, or through a trust agreement or some other arrangement? Be sure to include often-overlooked assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests, and any inheritance you may expect to receive.
Then, we want to know what you would like to prepare for and what your plans are.
After identifying the important people in your life and your list of assets, the next step is to consider the plans you would make for those people (including yourself) and those assets in the event of your own incapacity or death. There are many questions that we would ask at this point, such as:
- Who would you name to make decisions for you if you could no longer do so yourself?
- Would the same person handle your finances and your personal and health care decisions?
- Who would care for your minor children?
- How would you distribute your assets to your heirs?
- Would you prefer to spare your heirs the potential cost and hassles of the probate process?
- Would you like to minimize the impact of estate taxes ... or maximize the impact of a charitable bequest?
- Is there someone in your family with special needs for whom you would like to provide?
- Is there someone who perhaps should not receive a great deal of (or any) money without some outside oversight?
These are just a few of the issues to consider when approaching the planning process. They are much more important than the "treasure hunt" for legal documents at this stage.
When You Are Ready
When you are ready to schedule a consultation, please call or complete the Request a Complimentary Consultation form and we will give you a call to schedule.