Three Essential Steps To Creating An Effective Estate Plan | Estate Plan Pros
Three Essential Steps To Creating An Effective Estate Plan

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Have you ever left the house and discovered that you've forgotten your keys... or your wallet... or that important report sitting on your counter? Sometimes you discover that vital missing thing too late to go back and get it, requiring some last minute scramble. An effective estate plan can help your family avoid costly last minute scrambles.

Create Your Rule Book

Your family is unique.  No form document is going to fit your family.  That’s why crafting an estate plan takes skill and experience to use the estate planning tools available – a will, trust, power of attorney, advance health care directive, and mold them to fit your family and your desires.  Your voice needs to be heard in all these documents. 

  • A father wanted to make sure that there is no fighting between his children, so we added a clause that reduces by half the share of any beneficiary that unsuccessfully challenges the actions of his trustee. 
  • Parents wanted to ensure that if their son-in-law ever became their ex-son-in-law he wouldn’t be able to get his hands on their money.  We equipped their children with their own protective trusts, ensuring their inheritance would be safe from the threat of divorce, creditors, and even lawsuits.

Integrate Your Plan with Your Stuff

Did you have a wagon growing up?  You could pile all kinds of stuff in the wagon and take it anywhere.  A trust works the same way, you choose what goes into the trust, and decide where it goes.  And when you’re done with it, you get to say who picks up the handle after you.  Having the wagon is important, but if you leave your stuff laying on the ground, the wagon won’t help.  Let’s say you have a house, a car, and a brokerage account, and it’s all in your own name.  If something happens to you, there’s nothing holding those assets.  But, if you’ve placed your assets, your stuff, in your trust, then it’s just like moving your stuff off the ground and into the wagon.  Now the assets are safe, and your spouse, or your children, whoever your chose can pick up the handle.  That’s integration.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Maintain Your Plan

You may not be planning the largest ever seaborne invasion, but planning your estate can still feel like a major undertaking. 

Whether your battles are on the frontlines, in court, or across the table, success depends on being able to adjust to the reality of what is actually happening, not what you thought was going to happen.  Your estate plan from three, five, ten years ago may still fit what is happening in your life – or it may not.  If you don’t have an office working with you to maintain your estate plan, you may find yourself with a dusty pile of papers that won’t work.  That’s why our office works with our clients on an ongoing basis, and why we don’t charge for follow up calls and emails.  That’s why we review our client’s plans with them on a regular basis – to make sure that the plan they have is adjusting to the reality of life.

An estate plan that works is designed around your wishes and your goals for your family, is integrated with your assets, and maintained.

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Erik Hartstrom

Erik is the founder of Estate Plan Pros, a leading estate planning practice in Elk Grove.  Erik’s practice focuses on Estate Planning Law. In Estate Planning, Erik works with clients to make the process simple, so clients can focus on more important things. He is a local authority for specialized estate planning instruments, like Special Needs Trust, Irrevocable Trusts, or other focused documents. Erik has litigated, negotiated, and mediated the gamut of family law cases. With this unique perspective as a family law and estate attorney he can often spot issues otherwise overlooked. Prior to graduating he worked as a legislative analyst for a non-profit organization, and volunteered as a youth counselor. Erik currently participates in local politics and is an active member of his local church. Erik is very happily married and has two young sons. Together, his family loves to get outdoors and enjoy the varied activities the Sacramento region has to offer.


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