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Steps to an Effective Estate Plan

With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and the incredible speed at which things are changing around us, your family has been compelled to begin the difficult discussion of Estate Planning. Estate Planning is more than just planning for death or your own transition. Estate Planning is planning for life events such as a serious medical illness, injury, birth of a child, saving for college, layoffs, retirement, marriage and other significant milestones.

Estate planning is securing you and your family through good and bad times.

An effective estate plan begins with assembling a team of competent professionals. This task should be approached in the same manner as a Hollywood producer would assemble an Oscar worthy cast or a coach would mobilize a championship team.

However, unlike a director or coach, not only are you providing direction and vision for your estate plan, you are the lead actor and star player of this team. Your responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Determining what you want to achieve with your estate plan.

  • Identifying who will benefit from your estate plan.

  • Maintaining an inventory of your assets (Copies of Deeds, bank accounts, investment accounts, insurance policies).

  • Listing the names, addresses (updated frequently), and phone numbers of friends and family members who may benefit from your plan.

  • Identifying and nominating the person that will carry out your estate plan.

  • Do you have charitable or religious organizations that you would like to continue to support with some of your assets? Estate planning would be vital to ensuring desires are met.

  • Identifying prospective guardians of minor children.

Finally, through an existing network, we must recruit the following professionals:

Estate planning attorney:

  • Drafts the legal documents that carry out your estate plan.

  • Analyzes family and financial considerations; creates Wills, Trust, and other documents that effectively transfer your estate.

  • Ensure in consultation with your tax professional that the legal documents apply the tax laws for the benefit of your estate and beneficiaries.

Certified Public Accountant:

  • Utilizes knowledge of the tax law to propose creative techniques for minimizing or avoiding estate taxes through a combination of a will, a trust, lifetime transfers, and other avenues where you can maximize your estate.

Certain assets transferred through your estate may be subject to federal and state taxes.

Financial planner:

  • Plans for retirement, paying off debts, creating a budget, investment strategies depending on your age and risk tolerance

Life insurance agent:

Can help you choose insurance policies that:

  • Preserve the value of your estate,

  • Help provide you a financial head start and take care of your dependents, cover burial and funeral expenses, and

  • Depending on the type of policy provide benefits during your lifetime depending on the type of policy you choose.

In some instances, a policy from an insurance policy may not be subject the probate or administrative proceeding like the other assets that comprise your estate. protects property and financial risks.

In coordination with your estate planning attorney your life insurance agent can help you tailor your beneficiary designations and how insurance assets will be distributed outside the probating or administration of your estate.

Geriatric Care Manager:

However, one of the overlooked members of your cast should be a Geriatric Care Manager.

  • According to the National Institute of Aging, “[a] geriatric care manager, usually a licensed nurse or social worker who specializes in geriatrics, is a sort of "professional relative" who can help you and your family to identify needs and find ways to meet your needs.”

  • They are trained to assess, plan, coordinate, monitor and provide services for the elderly and their families. Such services may include managing home care attendants, assist you and your family members to qualify for Medicaid and Medicaid.

  • Advocacy for older adults is a primary function of the Geriatric Care Manager.

Summary

At our office we work with all or a combination of these professionals and you to tailor an Estate Plan that meets your objectives. We look forward to the opportunity to be on your estate planning team.