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Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Never a pleasant topic, it is the end game and therefore no one is comfortable initiating this type of discussion.  Nonetheless, the discussion should occur and it is highly recommended that the discussion be recorded with appropriate legal documents. Failing to have this discussion can result in additional difficult decisions for survivors, thereby adding to their stress at a very emotional time.

Estate planning is, at a high conceptual level, simply identifying certain objectives to be accomplished in the event of one’s passing. Be aware that estate planning can also address issues that may arise during one’s lifetime, for example: incapacity.

What are some of the items that people deal with when writing their estate plan?

  • Updated and corrected beneficiary designation on employer retirement plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) life insurance policies, annuities, employee stock options and employee purchase plans are just a few.
  • Appropriate TOD (Transfer on Death) or POD (Payable on Death) designations for certain financial accounts.
  • Identifying guardians for minor children or other adults for whom one has responsibility.
  • Bequeathing the family heirlooms to the appropriate individuals.
  • Identifying accounts to be used to pay off debts.
  • Establishing and funding charitable objectives.
  • Protecting beneficiaries who are not financially capable of managing an asset.

 Other issues to be discussed during the estate planning process  

  • Living wills, which are a medical directive to medical professionals.
  • Advanced Healthcare proxy, which appoints another individual the power to make medical decisions for you.
  • Financial Durable Power of Attorney – appointing another individual the power to make financial decisions in designated accounts.


Issues commonly uncovered during the estate planning process

  • The need for additional life insurance.
  • The anticipation of contests against the will.
  • The need for a revocable or irrevocable trust.


These are only a few of the things to consider.  This is a complicated financial aspect of your life.  I strongly encourage you to seek out competent estate planning attorney assistance to address this key component of your family’s future financial security.  Failing to plan, because this is an uncomfortable discussion, is not a plan at all and will burden your survivors with additional details and in some cases, they will have to deal with unintended consequences because there was no plan.