Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Introduction to Estate Planning: A Course for Consumers Chapter 4

Chapter 4: The Components of Every Estate Plan

In Chapter 3 of Introduction to Estate Planning: A Course for Consumers, we discussed identifying estate planning goals and objectives. The client's (your) goals are analyzed by the estate planning attorney and client to set the direction of the client's estate plan.

Here in Chapter 4 we review the basic components of every estate plan. These components are considered in every client's plan in some form. As you read the components, ask whether these have been considered in your existing plan and how you know that. Making sure these are all covered in critical in having a current estate plan.


To preview future chapters, in Chapter 5, we will cover the specific steps to follow to identify and locate a qualified estate planning specialist to work with, so stay tuned.Also, in future chapters we will cover estate planning details and specific strategies.

1. The Testamentary Component:

The testamentary component addresses where property or assets go and how they are handled upon the death of the client. There are numerous ways to address this component using wills and/or trusts which we will cover in future chapters.


2. The Disability Component:

This component addresses who will make decisions (both financial and health care) for the client after the client's incapacity. In this component there is also focus on the client's specific wishes about care at the end of life.

3. The Titling Component:

The titling component focuses on how the client's property and assets are titled and how beneficiary designations are structured. This is critical because the estate plan can be defeated if property is improperly titled or if beneficiary designations have money going contrary to the estate plan.

4. The Probate Component:

This component analyzes the probate impact to the client, family and property of various estate planning and titling options. For example, if the client owns a vacation home in a different state, failing to address that could result in a two state probate process.

5. The Tax Component:

The tax component focuses on the income, gift and estate tax impact of the estate plan and titling options the client is considering. For example, as we will see in future chapters, since the estate tax exemption is $5,340,000 for 2014, clients have greater freedom to plan their estates without worrying about the federal estate tax. However, since Congress frequently changes these exemptions, this component requires a continuing look by every client.


Since every client situation is unique, how these five components are addressed will vary between clients. Still, every client will review all five of these components in the design and implementation of their estate plan.

In Chapter 5 of Introduction to Estate Planning: A Course for Consumers, we will focus on how to choose a qualified estate planning specialist. Picking the right estate planning attorney is another fundamental building block of each client's estate plan.

As always, thank you for your questions and comments which are welcome.

Monday, April 14, 2014

“Top Seven” Ways to Make Advance Directives Available in an Emergency | American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. AAEPA, Inc.

Making Health Care Documents Available in an Emergency

Have you ever wondered how the people who need your health care documents, such as a Health Care Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will, can find them fast in an emergency? Here is an article with several ideas to consider:

“Top Seven” Ways to Make Advance Directives Available in an Emergency | American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. AAEPA, Inc.:

'via Blog this'

Do you have any other ideas about how to make these important documents available? We always suggest to clients the use of DocuBank and also Google Health as alternatives. Please consider these questions to protect yourself and your family.

Bernie Greenberg

Friday, March 21, 2014

Introduction to Estate Planning: A Course for Consumers Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Identifying Goals and Objectives

In Chapter 2 we discussed how the process of estate planning works. In this Chapter 3, we explore how to identify goals and objectives that drive the estate planning process. As an estate planning attorney, the process of goal identification is critical to assisting clients in moving forward with their estate plan.


With each estate plan individualized to each client, understanding what each client intends to accomplish is critical. Many people say, "I know I need a Will", but when asked why, very few can actually identify any real reasons. The reason to deal with estate planning specialists is to have qualified guidance in understanding why you are doing any part of the estate plan.

Let's start with goals that many clients seem to share. As your read through the list, ask yourself if any of the items listed are important to you. As you begin to identify your estate planning goals and objectives, you are searching for what is important to you and your family.

1. I want to protect my spouse if I get sick or die.

2. I want my estate to go to my spouse and then to my children.

3. I want my family to face the smallest amount of costs with my estate.

4. I want to save taxes.

5. I want to avoid probate.

6. I want my estate to pass free of Court involvement or supervision.

7. I don't my spouse's next spouse to get my money.

8. I want the inheritance I leave to my children to last for them and not be taken in a divorce or their creditors.

9. I want to know who will raise my children if I am not here.

As you read that list did any of those items sound like something you would say? Remember, identifying your goals and objectives is about what is important to you. Here are examples of other goals clients will mention:

1. I have a disabled child and want to make sure they are provided for.

2. I am taking care of a disabled parent. How can I protect them.

3. I want to pass my business interest to one child but not short change my other children.

4. How do I minimize estate taxes?

5. I want a Will.


As you can see, goals can be as creative and as numerous as there are people. Bear in mind that the purpose of this chapter is not to tell what you goals should be. The purpose of this chapter is to start you thinking about what your goals are.

Here are some exercises you can do to help you focus in on what is important to you:

1. Pretend that you either died or became disabled yesterday. I suggest yesterday because it can't happen and it will help you focus your thinking.

As you think about that, think about how you want things to work, who you want to protect and what you would want your situation to look like in that event. Then start writing all the things that pop into your mind. As you write that list, you start to identify the things that are important to you. This list becomes your starting point with your own estate plan.

Your list is yours alone and that is why your estate plan is yours alone. Your list of goals and objectives is what your estate planning attorney will use to guide you in designing and building your own estate plan.

As you think about your situation, do you have things on your list that are not covered here? That's great and you are on your way to starting your estate plan. If you would like to share a goal not listed here, that could help others that read this in their own thinking.

In Chapter 4 we will cover how your estate planning attorney uses your list of goals to begin the process of designing your estate plan. The first step is to understand the components of every estate plan and that is where Chapter 4 starts, with The Components of Every Estate Plan.

Thank you for your questions and comments. We appreciate each and every one and look forward to any you have about this Chapter 3 of Estate Planning: A Course for Consumers.

Bernie Greenberg