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

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