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Our Estate Planning Steps

Step 1: 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.

Step 2: 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 you chose can pick up the handle.  That’s integration.

Step 3: Maintain Your Plan

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.

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