Want Your Estate Plan To Really Work ?
Most Plans Don’t.
If You Have A Clear Desire To Leave
A Legacy and To Protect Your Heirs
You Need Your Estate Plan or Will To Be Clear,
Loud, and Effective.
If You Want Yours To Actually Work, Then Here
Are The Must Know Strategies and Steps To Ensuring
That Your Plan is Clear and Really Works…
Estate and Trust Attorney - David M. Frees III
Most Wills and Estate
Plans Don’t Work?
Most people, even many
wealthy people, don’t even
have a will. And, of those
who do a will, most will fail
to carry out their wishes.
Because they fail to take the few additional steps
and the couple of extra steps that really make the
These steps to success aren’t a secret.
But they are unknown to many people and in many
cases, to their lawyers.
So if wills and estate plans don’t work, why bother?
It’s not that wills don’t work. They can and do.
It’s just that most people (even many affluent people)
don’t take the time, or spend the tiny bit more money
to make them work properly.
They just need a few strategies and a
few extra hours of time to make the plan work
many times better, to save more money, and to
create much more effective protection.
And, to make matters worse, many people, and/or
their advisers often ignore the important step of
getting clear about what they want, who gets what,
when they get it, how they can use it, and how these
assets can be protected.
Finally, even if they take these steps, they often fail
to coordinate how they hold their wealth and assets with
what the lawyers and advisers have done in the estate
This article presents a brief review of some of the essential
strategies, and the specific steps designed to protect your
heirs from losing their inheritance to taxes, divorce,
frivolous litigation, fees and estate expenses.
Take just a few more minutes to read this article and
I can guarantee that you’ll be a much better consumer
of estate planning services, and that you’re estate plan,
will or trust will be many times more effective.
Let’s get started.
Do you have a business, stock ownership, a second home
or other assets that you want to leave to others or to a charity
as a legacy of your time and effort throughout your life?
Do you have a son in law or daughter in law that
has values that differ from your own?
Have you ever worried that a son or daughter might
get divorced and lose an inheritance to an ex spouse?
Do you care how and when your heirs and beneficiaries
get the assets?
How they are protected from lawsuits,
taxes, divorce and creditors?
Even if you think that you don’t care because your gone
when your kids inherit these assets, do you have any desire
to protect assets and wealth for grandchildren, charity or others?
So, if your definition of a successful estate plan is one that
protects your heirs from losing their inheritance, from taxation,
from will contests, legal expenses, and from other risks, then
you’ll want an estate plan that really works.
So what are they key strategies and steps to a successful will,
trust or estate plan?
Strategy #1 Get Clarity First -
About Your Assets and Your Wishes
This will save you time, money and, when coupled with
the right estate planning documents and your voice, will
send clarity to all involved. It’s the opposite of mumbling.
This sounds simple and obvious. But, I have had 8,000 clients
over 25 years and I personally still see hundreds per year.
And more often than not, they come to me before they figure out.
As you can imagine, that’s not good for them and it’s hard for
us to create a plan that does exactly what they want when they
haven’t even figured it out.
And, if your married, this involves clarity and a uniformed vision
of two minds not just one. And, anyone married beyond the
honeymoon knows that agreement on all of the issues of estate
planning doesn’t always come easy.
So what’s the solution?
What are the specific steps you need to take?
First get a net worth statement together. Know what you have,
how you own those assets, and what they are worth. With the
right kind of guide, this isn’t as hard as it sounds. And, it’s essential
information that any effective estate planning lawyer will need
to do the job for you.
And if you want a great estate planning tool, download my
Estate Planning Questionnaire or order my Definitive Guide to
Enhanced Estate Planning (for this guide, call 1-888-349-5016)
Second, married or single, start with your personal set of estate
planning goals. Be clear about what you want.
How do you get clarity? Ask yourself these questions.
What legacy do you want to leave?
Who gets what?
When do they get it?
Are there restrictions on the uses of such an inheritance?
Are you worried about divorce or lawsuits?
Do any heirs have special needs?
Do you have charitable intentions?
Are just children included or are there
direct gifts to grandchildren or others?
Do you have a charitable intent?
Who are the executors, trustees, guardians,
trust protectors, and other fiduciaries?
Are they the right people or institutions?
What do they have to do?
Now, if you’re married, you have to work with your
spouse to meld these two – often very different
sets of goals, aspirations, and if there are children
from multiple marriages, or a blended family, then
the issues are even more complicated as
both spouses will want to protect one another and their
children by this and/or prior marriages.
That brings us to the next and final step.
Strategy #2 Get the right attorney.
So how do you do that?
Start again by asking the right questions.
Most people want an attorney who is local and
convenient. But, if all other factors aren’t met you
can often find an attorney who is right for you within
a thirty to forty five minute drive.
This extra investment of time should pay real dividends.
Most lawyers don’t have extensive experience in estate
planning. A general practice lawyer might be right for a
young couple just starting out.
But when you have a family
business, when you’re a n executive, a business owner,
or when you have extensive assets, vacation homes, or
hard to value assets, then more experience may be called for.
One of the best ways to find the right lawyer is to get a referral
from your own lawyer, accountant, or other friends or family
members with situation similar to your own.
In fact, most of our clients are referred to us by their lawyers,
affluent or wealthy friends, family members, or other advisers.
Of course, it’s great when someone who you trust
(or even more than one) gives you the same name and a glowing
legal recommendation. That’s a great place to start.
Consider calling that lawyer for an appointment, but be sure
to ask if there is a consultation fee for the first appointment.
Many good lawyers offer low or no fee initial consultations.
But many good estate planning lawyers also charge. It’s just good to
know in advance.
But, if you don’t get a clear referral, or, if you want to know
more about the lawyers in your area, then you can also use lawyer
rating services like www.Avvo.com or Main Line’s Top Trust and Estate
Lawyer Designation or SuperLawyer designation.
You can click those links to see a sample of my profiles at those sites
or to search for other lawyers with those ratings.
Finally, it might also be helpful, or reassuring to Google some
of the estate planning questions, and issues that are important to
Does a law firm or lawyer in your area or community consistently
come up in the search results?
Do they offer great and informative information?
Do they represent other clients like you?
Do they have experience with special needs trusts (if you have a
child or grandchild with a disability or special need)?,
Are they experienced in the tools and techniques of wealth transfer,
such as gifting, GRATS (if you own rapidly appreciating assets),
Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
(if you have a vacation home or valuable primary residence),
ILITs (if you have or plan to buy life insurance)?
And, if this sounds too complex, don’t worry.
You may not need or want any of these particular tools.
But, what you do want is a lawyer
who knows all of the options.
Once you learn them, then it’s up to you to choose what
your estate plan looks like and how it works.
You want a lawyer that can discuss these options.
These are a few of the ways to make sure that you have clarity,
and get the right lawyer to help you and a spouse (if you’re married)
to devise a clear estate plan and the documents to carry it out.
Finally, you need to go the extra mile to make sure that your
plan is clear, that it works, and that it is designed to save your heirs
time and money, and if desired, that it also protects them
from lawsuits and divorce.
This means hiring a lawyer or law firm that will help you
to coordinate your assets and to structure your affairs to match
and to compliment the documents, tax clauses, wills and trusts
that make up your estate plan.
You’re also going to want a lawyer that can coach you on:
how to avoid will contests,
how to create estate planning memos
how to hold family meetings when explaining the plan,
the trusts, and the strategies is desirable.
There’s more to great estate planning than this, but if you follow these steps,
you’ll be well on your way to creating a successful, powerful, and
effective legacy and avoiding the will contests, taxes and litigation
that often results when families fail to plan.
Strategy #3 Take Action, Get It Done and Feel Better
Don't gamble with the future of your heirs - Get The Estate Plan Done
So stop saying “I’ll get to it tomorrow or
next year. ”
Get your planning done right and you’ll
make your spouse and heirs very happy.
You’ll check it off of the long to do list
and you’ll feel better – much better.
For more of our free reports, a free copy of our
Enhanced Estate Planning Questionnaire, or information about
Family Meetings call 1-888-349-5016.
David Frees Chairs The Trust, Estate and
Wealth Preservation Section of the firm.
He can be reached by email at email@example.com
or by calling 1-888-349-5016.
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