10 Things You Need to Know

Here’s a quick overview of key issues.


What Is It?

Simply put, our wills, trusts, asset protection, and probate services help you safeguard your wealth during your life and distribute it economically after your death. In the context of a larger estate plan, these items can help you control how your estate is managed, minimize taxes and fees, and avoid uncertainty about final medical and financial decisions. This is accomplished through contracts and documents, ranging from very simple to extremely complex, that we customize to achieve your unique goals.


You Get What You Pay For

While basic estate planning saves administrative costs associated with probate, if you’re looking to greatly reduce estate and gift taxes, you’ll need more complicated—and more expensive—irrevocable trusts. The more you invest in estate planning, the more value you and your family will receive from it, both during and after your life.


Take What You’ve Heard with a Grain of Salt

Laws on estate planning are vastly different from state to state, and tax regulations change annually. What may have been good advice five years ago may not be good advice today. It’s important to keep an open mind to new ideas and strategies.


Annual Reviews are Essential

Life changes, and it’s critical to ensure that your estate plan reflects your current needs and goals. We review every client’s estate plan annually, and we highly recommend that everyone should review their estate planning documents at least every two years and immediately after any significant life event, such as a marriage, divorce, birth, or death.


Trusts Aren’t Just for Wealthy People

There are dozens of types of trusts, which have a wide range of purposes. While wealthy individuals generally use them to avoid paying costly estate taxes, they can be very useful to any estate, since they can make asset distribution more efficient and protect assets from creditors or lawsuits.


Honesty is the Best Policy

All conversations you have with your attorney are confidential and protected by attorney-client privilege. Even if you’ve been keeping an embarrassing secret from your family for years, such as an illegitimate child or mistress, it’s critical to address those issues in your estate plan. Failing to do so could subject your estate to challenges and litigation after your death. We’re not here to judge, only to provide you with outstanding counsel.


Beware of Hidden Conflicts of Interest

Some people who perform estate planning get kickbacks or commissions from others, giving them a financial incentive to promote a certain product or service. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they are taking advantage of you, it is something to be aware of when considering their advice or recommendations, and it should always be disclosed. We may suggest other professionals to assist you with your estate, since we don’t perform any financial advising, tax consulting, or insurance underwriting, but we don’t accept any compensation or commissions for such referrals—and never will.


Leaving Everything to Your Spouse Isn’t Always the Best Idea

Some clients have a result in mind when they come to a consultation; however, it’s important to thoroughly review your goals and fully consider your options with your attorney before committing to a course of action. For instance, while you may want your spouse to have your assets when you die, leaving everything to your spouse could cause your children to pay more in estate taxes later and create confusion over how your assets should be distributed after your spouse’s death.


Don’t Worry About Family Members’ Feelings

Many clients feel obligated to make their spouse or eldest child their Power of Attorney or Executor of their estate. However, it’s more important to select someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf and carry out your final wishes than to worry about offending a family member.


Estate Planning Can Be Enjoyable

While this process can seem overwhelming, it can be a revealing, entertaining, and exciting experience. Having an attorney involved can make discussing difficult issues a bit easier with your family and make tricky estate planning issues easier to understand. Through estate planning, you can give yourself peace of mind, ease potential strain on your family, make your retirement years easier, help a favorite cause, and leave a lasting legacy—and you might crack a smile or two while doing it. Give us a call at 704-325-9325 to schedule your consultation and get started today.

Author: Nathan Workman