Photo of Eric R. Ebbert, CFP®, MBA, CEO Eric R. Ebbert, CFP®, MBA, CEO Sep 24, 2020

For pretty much anyone who has a spouse or children, you are concerned about their well-being after you pass. You want to make sure they are financially covered and have the rights to your possessions, so what do you do? Many people write a will and have it officially notarized. However, you may have also heard about estate planning and wonder if it is right for you.

A common misconception is that estate planning is just for the wealthy. However, it is beneficial for anyone, and the depth to which you need to go depends on the size of their estate and other factors.

What is estate planning?

An estate plan is a strategy for protecting your assets and personal property that constitute your estate. It includes a series of legal documents outlining what you wish to do with your estate in the event that you pass away or are incapacitated. An estate plan can include:

  • A will — Your will defines who you want to receive your assets, take care of your children or oversee the transition of your estate.  At a minimum, this is a document virtually everyone should have.
  • A living will — A living will is quite different than a regular will. It is a document that expresses your desires for treatment in the event you are unable to speak for yourself due to incapacity.
  • A trust — A trust is a three-party fiduciary relationship in which the estate holder transfers the management of the estate to a second party for the benefit of the third party. A trust offers control over how and when assets are distributed, and it can reduce estate taxes. In the case of setting up a living trust, you are usually all three parties until you are no longer capable of doing so because of poor health or death.
  • Power of attorney — Power of attorney gives a trusted person the ability to make financial decisions when you are unable.
  • Medical power of attorney — A medical power of attorney gives a trusted person the ability to make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable.

Additionally, an estate plan helps expedite the transfer of property when you have passed or are incapacitated. It can save your relatives the time of going through a probate court, which can be expensive and an invasion of privacy, not to mention time consuming.

Do I need estate planning?

We cannot answer that question for you outright. We suggest you take a look at this list of what constitutes an estate plan and consider whether that is what you need to make sure your family is covered or if it might be more than you need. 

What we can do is talk to you directly to get to know your individual financial circumstances, your goals and your values to help determine whether an estate plan factors into your overall financial plan. This personalized approach to your financial planning will be more beneficial than relying on generic advice.

Talk to a ProVise CFP® professional about estate planning

While the thought of incapacity or passing away is not the most pleasant one, it is important to make a plan for what happens when you do. If you have a spouse, children or other people you care about who you wish to receive your estate in the event of your death, then you need to talk to a financial advisor about whether you should create a will or need a more comprehensive estate plan.

At ProVise Management Group, our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals can get to know you and your current financial circumstances, goals, risk tolerance and personal values to help you develop a plan that works for you. We can also create a written plan for you at a fiduciary standard of care. All our written plans come with an unconditional money-back guarantee. If you are unhappy with your written plan, you can return it to us, and we will refund 100% of the fee paid.

Are you ready to talk to a professional about managing your estate? Contact ProVise today to schedule a complimentary consultation.