Welcome to a new multi-part serial presentation of what effective estate planning looks like.

Because many common estate planning issues are best handled using a trust based estate plan whose centerpiece is a revocable living trust, trust planning has become common place.  Nevertheless, many people new to estate planning begin with commonly held misconceptions.  Chief among those misconceptions are the beliefs that:

  • The decision to use a revocable living trust is based upon how much money you have;
  • Most estates will be subject to death taxes; and
  • Probate is an expensive process to be avoided above all else.

Under the constant bombardment of marketing pitches from seemingly impeccable sources, these fears are fed by myths which I will dispel in the following series of blogs.  I will explain important issues in estate planning in a logical rather than fear based environment.  I hope you find this information helpful.

A useful definition of estate planning is I want to control my assets while I am alive and well, and pass what I own, to whom I want, when I want, how I want, all at the lowest possible overall cost.  Every part of this definition is incorporated into each plan I create, but the first step is learning what you are up against.  The following topics will be covered in the order in which they will occur in the course of your life and death:

  1. Planning While Alive and Well;
  2. Planning for Incapacity;
  3. Planning for After the First Death; and
  4. Planning for Wealth Transfer to Descendants.
  5. Values Legacy
  6. Why Do-It-Yourself Planning using Forms Can Be Expensive

I will describe the questions you need to answer; I won’t answer the questions for you.  I intend to provide you a useful framework for your discussion with me or your own estate planner.

If there are additional topics you would like to see in more depth, post a comment and we’ll get to it.