Estate Planning









Estate transfers usually involve both tax and non-tax considerations. Both are important and should be considered in designing an estate plan. Both factors should also be considered in the context of lifetime planning and in planning for the conservation and distribution of the estate.

Similar to a comprehensive financial plan, an estate plan should follow specific steps to allow the client toward achieving the appropriate result.

  • Gather significant data - including current wills, trusts, and other documents, identity relationship to heirs, how the estate should be divided (including charity), list of assets and how they are titled, and any other pertinent information
  • Establish and prioritize estate planning objectives
  • Identify factors that limit or affect the selection of estate planning techniques including:
    • Value of the estate
    • Amount of estate taxes
    • Health and life expectancy
    • Financial needs during life
    • Types of property
    • Title to property
    • Special needs
  • Identify estate planning weaknesses in the present plan
  • Select appropriate techniques
  • Implement the estate planning techniques selected. An estate plan needs to be properly implemented to assure the achievement of the client's objectives. Usually this will require the use and coordination of an estate planning team of financial planner, attorney, accountant, trust officer, and other professionals.
  • Review the plan for revisions - An estate plan is never really "final". Changes in family, net worth, tax laws, testamentary intentions or other factors may outdate a once appropriate plan. Periodic reviews are necessary to assure the plan is once again in line with the client's intent.