In January, there is an increase in calls to our office, with people wanting to do estate planning. They recognize the need to plan for their potential disability and death, and ensure their families are provided for. If you are intending to do some estate planning, I urge you to do it soon. None of us like to think about our demise, but having a plan is essential, so why not start today?
To be successful with estate planning, there are certain criteria to follow, which are:
The estate plan needs to honor your life.
You don’t work for 50 years, raising a family, saving for a nest egg – only to lose it all to taxes, probate and long term care expenses. I like to think about my clients living their life story. Each chapter they write represents a different stage of their lives. When you reach retirement, you want that chapter to be a successful one for you. My role as an estate planning attorney is to help you write some of the difficult chapters. If a disability occurs, at least you will be well prepared. You want your final chapter after you pass away, to say that you left a legacy and we want to ensure that this happens.
The estate plan must protect your resources.
Many estate plans fail as they only answer the question of who will get your stuff when you pass away. Faulty estate plans don’t tackle the issue of what happens if you get sick before you pass away, or if your child goes through a divorce.
It seems that some law firms tell you that, “All you need is a simple will”, when you are considering doing estate planning. If this happens, perhaps the attorney you went to see, handles various other legal issues, and does not focus on estate planning. This would be a failure in my opinion, because a Will is not an estate plan but part of an estate plan. Estate planning does not just answer the question of who will get your stuff.
Another reason you might be told only a will is needed, is because some attorneys are only focussed on high net-worth tax planning for their millionaire clients. When you approach them, they quickly expedite you by offering a simple Will. I have had clients come to me having experienced this, and they are grateful we are able to help them, and that we care about their situation. We offer you various estate planning tools, and we believe in providing education, so you make an informed decision. These estate planning tools not only answer the question of who gets your stuff when you pass away, but it protects your resources from long term care expenses, divorces, law suits, taxes, creditors and predators.
The estate plan must set your family up for success.
Some family members are not equipped to handle money so giving children an inheritance outright, could be a mistake. An inheritance could be lost to a divorce or law suit, which is why we recommend inheritances be put into trusts.
Often family members are also the decision makers – whether they are an agent under your power of attorney, an executor of your estate, or the Trustee of your trust. However, having this responsibility does not qualify them to know what they need to do in that role. For this reason, we like to educate our clients’ children on their future responsibilities. By doing so, they are equipped to do what is needed, should you become disabled or pass away. We prepare and equip responsible parties to execute your wishes.
The estate plan needs to work today and tomorrow.
Estate planning when you are a retiree is different than when you are in your thirties, with young children. As a retiree, your estate plan should not require many changes. However, when you are younger, the estate plan you create is not going to be your ‘forever’ plan. It changes over time to reflect the changes in your life and circumstances.
Most of us plan for what happens if we get sick or pass away when we are old. However, we also need to plan for any eventuality in the short term. You need a plan to work for anything which may happen to you now, but also be adjusted if you live a long life.
When people come to my law firm for an estate plan, they are not just purchasing a document from me. We don’t regard clients as transactions, and meeting an attorney for your estate plan is a transactional process. Feeling rushed to complete your estate plan to get out of the lawyer’s office before he sees his next client, is not the way to practice law.
We build relationships with our clients. When we work with a family, we build a foundation, setting up the proper estate planning tools. These tools include wills, trusts and power of attorney. We offer ongoing support which is a membership program, providing you with education and support. We maintain a relationship so when family circumstances or the law changes, we can quickly make adjustments.
Come to Our Workshops
If any of this resonates with you, you might want to come to one of our workshops, which are free. Register on our website: sechlerlawfirm.com/workshops to attend our estate planning workshops, also known as the 3 Secrets Workshop. This is where we share the 3 secrets to help you create a plan to protect your resources. Following the workshop, we offer you the opportunity to meet with us to get the tools you need. Call us at 724 546 4227 or visit our website, where you will find valuable free resources, including blog articles, videos and downloadable guides.
We care about how you plan, so let us help you!