Are you feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about estate planning? We got you covered in this episode of The Agent of Wealth Podcast. Together, Marc Bautis and John Williams break down what you should know about the process before your first estate planning session. From identifying critical decisions about your assets to getting clear on your estate planning goals, digesting this information can help you make well-informed choices tailored to your unique needs.
In this episode, you will learn:
- What relevant information you’ll need to bring to your first estate planning meeting.
- How to determine your goals and objectives for estate planning.
- The differences between the key players in your estate plan – beneficiaries, heirs, guardian, executor and trustee.
- The most common estate planning documents.
- And more!
MyAdvocate | Episode 60 – How Using a Professional Executor Can Improve Your Estate Planning with Anthony Park | Bautis Financial: 8 Hillside Ave, Suite LL1 Montclair, New Jersey 07042 (862) 205-5000 | Schedule an Introductory Call
Welcome back to The Agent of Wealth Podcast, this is your host Marc Bautis. On today’s show, I’m joined by John Williams, fellow wealth advisor at Bautis Financial.
Today, we’re going to talk about estate planning, and specifically, how to prepare for your first estate planning meeting.
Preparing for an estate planning meeting can be a daunting task, but it’s an important one to ensure that your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are taken care of after you pass away.
Reasons Why People Delay Estate Planning
Many people put off the task of creating an estate plan, and there are a couple of reasons as to why:
- Creating an estate plan involves having a conversation about death, which is not a pleasant topic to discuss.
- Creating an estate plan requires you to make decisions, and those decisions can be difficult. Selecting a guardian for your minor children is an example of this.
- People don’t know what to expect from the estate planning process, which is really the focus of today’s episode.
Our goal today is to help our listeners understand what to expect from this process. We’ll talk about the potential players in your estate plan – executors, trustees, guardians, and beneficiaries. We’ll discuss the first estate planning meeting. And, we’ll also touch on other services (besides an attorney) that you can use to create your estate plan, like MyAdvocate.
Whether you’re meeting to discuss your estate plan for the first time, or updating an existing estate plan, proper preparation can help you make the most of your time and get the best possible advice.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare for an estate planning meeting.
How to Prepare for an Estate Planning Meeting
Think About Your Goals
Consider what you want to achieve with your estate plan. For example, do you want to minimize taxes, protect your assets from creditors, ensure your children are taken care of, or give money to charity?
For most people, the goal of estate planning is to designate heirs for their assets. But there are a lot of other things that people can get out of the estate planning process. One is related to taxes. When creating an estate plan, you can make it a goal to minimize or avoid estate taxes.
Other examples include protecting your assets from creditors – or other, specific people. You may want to give money to charity…
Make a List of Your Assets and Liabilities
List the estimated value of each asset and liability, and how they are titled or owned.
Once you’ve determined your goals, the next step is to list your assets and liabilities, including their estimated value and how they are titled or owned.
This should include:
- Real estate.
- Bank accounts.
- Retirement accounts.
- Life insurance policies.
- Debts (mortgages, car loans, personal loans, etc.)
Identify Your Beneficiaries
Make a list of the people or organizations you want to inherit your assets after you pass away. Include their full, legal name and contact information.
A beneficiary is a person or entity that is named to receive assets from an estate or a specific account.
The designation of beneficiaries is an important part of estate planning, as it ensures that your assets will go to the individuals or organizations you want them to go to, and can help avoid confusion or disputes after your death.
Prior to an estate planning meeting, make a list of the people or organizations you want to inherit your assets after you pass away. Include their full, legal name and contact information.
Consider Who You Want to Name As Your Executor or Trustee
An executor manages a deceased person’s estate to distribute his or her assets according to the will. A trustee is responsible for administering a trust.
This is the person who will manage your finances and be responsible for carrying out your wishes when you pass away. You should also select at least one alternate.
Do not automatically choose your oldest child or sibling… be careful to select a responsible, honest individual, who manages their own finances well and lives not too far from you.
If you want to hear more info about what an executor does, Episode 60 of The Agent of Wealth Podcast is with guest Anthony Park, who is a professional executor.
Bring Relevant Documents
If you have any existing estate planning documents, such as a will or a trust, bring them to the meeting with you. You should also bring any deeds, titles, or other documents related to your assets.
Never Hesitate to Ask Questions
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Feel free to inquire about any and all of the following:
- The structure, purpose and operation of estate planning documents.
- The legal and tax ramifications of your estate planning wishes.
- Your attorney’s work process.
- Your attorney’s experience and background.
- Are they an attorney that solely focuses on estate planning or a general attorney?
- How your estate planning fees are calculated.
Special Considerations and Protections:
- Is there anybody other than spouse and/or kids you’d like to leave assets to and what?
- Grandchildren? Children from a prior relationship?
- Specific assets like a pet, jewelry, etc…
- Are your children minors, or do you have concerns about them receiving a large inheritance?
- Are you concerned about the flow of assets if your surviving spouse was to remarry or get divorced?
- Do you own a business?
- How large is your estate? Is there a lot of real property (real estate)?
- Would even a slight delay in the passing of any assets derail your plans?
- Do you have any digital assets?
- Are there any reasons to avoid probate beyond assets that have named beneficiaries?
Durable Power of Attorney:
- Do you want someone to handle your financial affairs if you are alive but incapacitated?
- Do you trust them enough to make them your agent immediately, or do want them to have to prove that you are incapacitated?
- Name agents and alternate agents.
Health Care Directive:
- Do you want someone to make medical decisions for you if you are unable?
- Name agents and alternate agents.
- Do you have funeral or burial wishes?
- Do you have any other wishes for your advocates about how to manage your legacy? For example: I would like my children’s guardian to keep them in the school in which they were enrolled at the time of my death.
By taking the time to prepare for your estate planning meeting, you can help ensure that you will receive the best possible advice and that your wishes are accurately reflected in your estate plan.
Like we mentioned, the purpose of planning prior to the meeting is not to have everything figured out, but more so to give you a feel for what to expect.
So, that’s it for today. John, thank you for joining me. And thank you everyone for tuning into today’s episode. Don’t forget to follow The Agent of Wealth on the platform you listen from and leave us a review of the show. We are currently accepting new clients, if you’d like to schedule a 1-on-1 consultation with our advisors, please do so below.