Estate Planning Steps

Whether you have a large estate or a small estate, selecting the estate planning strategies which best fit your needs and your family’s needs is extremely important. We recognize that our clients have two common goals: (1) to ensure that their beneficiaries receive their assets in as simple a manner as possible and at a time in which they are mature enough to manage those assets properly, and (2) to ensure that federal and state governments receive as little of those assets as possible.

If you would like to learn more about this process, we encourage you to review the steps below:

Step One

We begin the estate planning process with an analysis of your asset information, so that we understand what assets will be passing to your heirs upon your death.

Please click this Asset Inventory link to view an inventory form for listing your estate assets and beneficiary designations. It will be extremely helpful if you complete this information before our first meeting and bring it with you to your appointment.

Step Two

Step two in the estate planning process is personal. We will discuss with you who you want to be the beneficiaries of each of your assets and when and how your beneficiaries should obtain the assets. We will review how much of your estate you want to leave to your spouse and how much you want to leave to your children. We will review with you whether your children are mature enough to properly manage the assets you intend to leave them, and if not, what structure needs to be in place to protect those assets for their benefit. We will discuss with you whether any of your beneficiaries need special needs trusts. We will review with you how best to benefit charities if you have charitable intent. Our goal is to ensure that we have utilized the most efficient approach to transferring each and every asset upon your passing. We see our role as that of a shepherd, guiding you through the process, seeking not that you simply trust us in designing the estate plan, but that we help you understand the plan and gain a sense of security that the plan will accomplish your objectives and ultimately lead to your peace of mind.

If any of your children are minors, naming a guardian for them could be the most important decision you could make in the entire estate planning process. The proper legal vehicle to name your guardian is in your Will, and we will assist you in how best to decide who your guardian should be.

Step Three

In reviewing with you how your beneficiaries should receive your assets, we will address the five methods for transferring assets:

1. Lifetime Giving;
2. Joint Accounts Transferring Assets at Death by Survivorship;
3. Beneficiary Designations;
4. Wills; and
5. Revocable Trusts.

We will guide you in deciding which of these methods are most appropriate for each of your assets. Ultimately, we will address with you whether a Will or a Trust will be more efficient as your primary wealth transfer document, and we will discuss with you how much projected costs both in the planning process and the estate administration process will be impacted by your decision.

Whether you select a Will or a Trust as your primary wealth transfer document, you will need a trusted individual or company to wind up your affairs, and we will advise you as to how best to select the Executor of your Will or the Trustee of your Trust.

Step Four

Finally, we will assist you in preparing for those difficult times as we near death.  Everyone should have both business and health care durable powers of attorney and living wills to assist in implementing their wishes during their end of life period. Our standard package includes these ancillary documents.

We Can Guide You To Success

While it may seem overwhelming at first, creating an estate plan doesn’t have to cause unnecessary stress. Call our firm today at (901) 523-8283 for compassionate, knowledgeable guidance, or contact us online to schedule your first appointment.