Thursday, May 21, 2009

Have You Done Proper Estate Planning? Part 3 of 4

The Three Step StrategyTM

It's Not About Documents - It's About Results!
The Key to proper estate planning is clear, comprehensive, customized instructions for your own care and that of your loved ones.  These instructions can be included in a will, a trust, and in several other related documents.  We find that most of our clients are best served with a combination of these tools, backed up by the Three Step StrategyTM.

Step 1: DEVELOP Your Plan with Counseling-Oriented Planning Partners (as opposed to a word processing, document-oriented attorney)

We fear that much of what passes for estate planning is little more than word processing!  We don't believe you should pay a licensed professional to do word processing.  Their value is in their counsel and advice, based on knowledge, wisdom and experience.  If word processing is all you want, you may as well do it yourself!  But if you want an estate plan that works, seek good counseling from an attorney who is willing to work closely with other professionals such as your financial advisor and accountant.

Step 2: COMMIT Yourself and Your Family to a Formal Continuing Maintenance and Education Program

An estate plan faces a myriad of changes.  First, there is constant change in your personal, family, and financial situation.  Secondly, there is constant change in both tax law and non-tax law that impacts your estate plan.  Third, there is constant change in your attorney's experience and expertise.  Your professional advisors are continually improving through ongoing education and collected experience.

Since everything constantly changes, you cannot expect a plan to accomplish what it was intended to accomplish if it is never updated.  The costs of failing to update are typically far greater than the costs of keeping your plan current.  

Step 3: SECURE Appropriate Assistance for You and Your Family to Transfer Your Wisdom Along with Your Wealth.

It's one thing to pass your wealth to the next generation.  It's a different thing to pass it along in an orderly and protected manner.  And it's yet another thing to pass along your wisdom.  A good estate plan will accomplish all three things.  

By working with a team of professionals, your heirs will be able to receive their inheritance in a form that is protected from creditors and predators.  In addition, you can structure your estate plan to provide in-depth instructions or commentary on those things that you believe are important for those heirs to know and do.  

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