Estate Planning Introduction

The estate planning process for most is challenging at best. It involves working with lawyers and accountants, grappling with mortality issues, and perhaps most challenging – addressing sensitive family issues. Most people think of estate planning as the process of arranging their affairs in anticipation of death. But, done properly, estate planning can help increase peace of mind and happiness by providing control of your client’s financial future. With adequate information about your client’s financial situation, you can then use that information to formulate a road map for where they want to go, giving them greater autonomy, or control, and therefore a greater potential to be happier

To formulate a plan that may truly improve a client’s life, discovery of key goals and issues that really motivate them is required. These goals are then compared to their existing financial situation to see how prepared they are to meet those goals. Once you’ve uncovered what is most important to them, you can begin to formulate a plan that really makes sense and that can potentially lead to greater happiness.

Planning Process

When beginning the estate planning process, you should review the following steps: Identify key goals and issues, complete a personal balance sheet, identify risk sensitivity, assemble a list of estate planning documents, begin the planning process with this information at hand.

Wills and Probate

For property to be passed on at death, a person’s will must be “probated.” Historically, the probate process was expensive and drawn-out. While this perception continues to live on, many states now have a much more streamlined probate process.

Property Ownership

If a person dies without a will or trust, single ownership property still passes under the probate process. Different kinds of property and ownership arrangements result in different ways in which that property is transferred upon an owner’s death.


The way that property passes at death occupies a lot of planners’ thinking, but often the more important question is how can the property be managed during the owner’s lifetime? A possible solution is a revocable trust that offers the greatest incapacity planning benefits.

Annual Review

The estate planning process involves contemplating mortality, trying to decide how to provide for loved ones, and grappling with potential tax consequences. Once a plan is established, an in-depth annual review of all assets is needed to ensure that problems won’t arise at your death.

Wealth Transfer

How much, to whom, and in what form should assets be passed on? It may seem like a fairly simple question to answer, but it can be surprisingly difficult. These issues may be addressed by proactively deciding how to pass on wealth in a restricted fashion such as a trust.