What Is “Proper” Estate Planning?
Proper Estate Planning allows you to plan for yourself and your loved ones without giving up control of your affairs. Your estate plan should allow for the possibility of your own disability. It should give “what you own to whom you want, when you want, and the way you want”. Your estate plan should include fully disclosed and controlled costs for you, and for those you love.
Two Problems With Traditional Estate Planning
The First Problem Is That Most Estate Plans Are Upside Down!
We see the planning process as a pyramid. The pyramid’s foundation is the thorough understanding of your needs, goals, dreams and aspirations. Most people want to be sure that they (and their spouse if married) are taken care of now, and throughout their retirement years. Next, we need to have a thorough understanding of family members and family dynamics – those people that you care about and who will someday receive the benefits of your success. For some people, family includes children and grandchildren. For others, it may be nieces and nephews, friends, or community. You are the expert on family matters. We depend on you to teach us about your family. We’ll teach you about the law. After the foundation of the pyramid is laid, it is appropriate to discuss wealth. We find that most of our clients first want to protect and preserve the wealth that they have accumulated over the years, and then are also interested in enhancing that wealth. The final building block of the pyramid is made up of strategies and tools to save taxes. Like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, this is the easiest piece to fit in — if all of the proper groundwork has been laid. When we say that most estate plans are upside down, we mean that most are built on tax planning instead of family planning! Personal family concerns and goals are relegated to a lower priority instead of being the very foundation of the plan. We believe that by planning according to the pyramid, we can better focus on client goals and create solutions that will ultimately make the planning easier and more effective.
The Second Problem Is That Most “Traditional” Estate Plans Just Don’t Work!
We know an estate plan works when every expectation that the client had in mind when they began planning is completely met. Of course, it’s really the family members who will see the results. Why don’t most plans work? We believe it’s because many clients and professional advisors see estate planning as being transactional. They say, “I did my estate plan.” In reality, estate planning is a process, not a transaction. Because everything constantly changes, your plan must be changing too.