What to Expect When Working with
Your Estate Planning Team

Estate planning often involves the coordinated efforts of an estate planning team consisting of your attorney, accountant, and financial professional. However, whether establishing a new estate plan or revising an existing one, only you can provide the guidance, direction, and information needed to develop an effective plan. Most estate planning teams begin the process by requesting that you complete a questionnaire and asset inventory. Although this may seem an arduous task, the more comprehensive the information you provide, the more your team will be able to help you achieve your goals.

Although some questions may seem intrusive, each has a specific purpose. When formulating an estate plan, you may be asked to provide any or all of the following information:

Family and Other Beneficiaries

  • The names, ages, relationships, and special needs of family members and other beneficiaries.
  • Copies of property settlements, other financial agreements, and court decrees relating to your family.

Health

  • Information on your current health and the health of your beneficiaries.
  • The average health and life spans of your ancestors.

Assets and Liabilities

  • A list of your assets, their estimated net value, and documentation of their ownership.
  • Identification of your liabilities and those of your spouse.

Existing Plans

  • A copy of your current will, including information on contractual or legal restrictions on the disposition of your assets.
  • Documentation of survivorship provisions and beneficiary designations on insurance policies, retirement plans, employee benefit plans, business buy-sell agreements, and other such assets.

Objectives and Purposes

  • Your goals and aspirations for yourself and each beneficiary.
  • An assessment of each beneficiary’s ability to manage assets.

Benefits of Estate Planning

Once fully informed, your estate planning team can help you accomplish the following:

  • Analyze your assets to determine which should be disposed of during your lifetime and which should be retained, as well as whether any special expertise will be required to value and dispose of your assets.
  • Identify which assets will be subject to probate and estate taxes, and estimate the potential costs to your estate.
  • Estimate and plan for the liquidity needs of your estate, your surviving spouse, and other family members and beneficiaries to cover estate taxes, probate costs, and future living expenses.
  • Guide you in selecting the best domicile, if applicable, to help reduce the net effect of taxes on your estate.

No Plan Is Final

Bear in mind that no estate plan is final. Marriages, remarriages, births, deaths, professional changes, and new legislation may necessitate adjusting an existing plan or creating a new one. Also, the composition of your assets may change over time. To keep your estate plan up-to-date, notify your estate planning team of any relevant changes as they occur, and work with them if they alert you to any relevant legislative changes.

 

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