Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

An Estate Plan is for everyone. You need one even if you do not have a lot of assets. It’s about taking control of your finances, your end-of-life care & choosing exactly how you want to leave your legacy.

People get sick & become incapacitated, unable to make important decisions on their own, or unable to live independently. And of course, we all have an expiration date. Estate planning helps to protect your family and your assets in any of these unfortunate situations. Think of it as leaving a “set of instructions” for the babysitter. What should they do if you are not there? Who gets what and when among other things? 

Powers of Attorney – more important than you think 

If you become incapacitated for whatever reason, your family cannot access your retirement or bank accounts unless some planning has been done in advance. Powers of Attorney allow you to decide who you want to make important decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so. You will need both a Healthcare Power of Attorney and a Financial Power of Attorney.

Wills & Trusts 

As for Transfer of Assets – a simple will may do the job, but it also guarantees probate – which involves lawyers & fees. While in many states, it’s not expensive to go through probate, it’s almost always a hassle for your heirs. They can’t sell property that’s in probate – no matter how hot the real estate or car market is… 

A trust might be a better solution. I tell my clients that creating a living trust is a gift to those you leave behind. It minimizes expense, avoids publicity, provides clarity of your intentions, avoids a contest of the will, and generally makes for an easier transition to your heirs. 

Trusts are not for everyone, so seek qualified legal advice to determine whether it’s right for you. This is not an exhaustive estate planning discussion, but a primer. One of the easiest things you can do to improve your estate plan is to review & update all your beneficiary designations on a regular basis. This includes IRAs, company retirement plans and life insurance policies. Don’t accidentally disinherit your children or your new spouse! 

At a minimum, review your wills, trusts, & beneficiaries every 3-5 years. Life can change in an instant – make sure your family is protected when it does.

If you would like to discuss your personal situation and what type of estate planning is best for your family, contact me at or 817-690-6810