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Estate Planning

Plan 4, Inc.

At Plan 4, we have one mission: to assist you in achieving your financial goals. Our diverse team of advisors believes that an educated client is an empowered client. We are committed to honest and forthcoming dialogue and evaluation. We tell it like it is. Meet with one of our advisors today to ensure that your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes. Life happens, but we can give you confidence knowing that your estate plan is in place and current.

What is estate planning?

In simplest terms, estate planning establishes a plan for the distribution of assets and belongings upon one’s death. An estate is defined as including everything that the individual owns or has a controlling interest in, such as land and real estate, financial instruments, cash, and other physical and financial assets. Setting up a solid, strategic plan for the disposition of these assets, whether big or small, is financial estate planning. There is no one size fits all estate planning strategy. Individuals must determine what will work for them and their specific circumstance, and develop a corresponding estate plan that satisfies their requirements. At Plan 4, our diverse team of advisors will help you design & implement an estate planning strategy, bringing in top attorneys and tax advisors as needed.

Why is estate planning important?

The importance of estate planning cannot be overstated.  Do you care what happens with your money and assets after you pass away? Chances are, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’!  Proper estate planning can create generational wealth, in some cases changing the trajectory of a family’s future, or simply keep belongings within the family and avoid internal conflict upon the death of a family member. In order to truly ensure that your wishes are honored after your death, proper estate planning is imperative.. Want to keep your family home in the family for generations to come? Want to ensure that the family farm stays in the family? Want your grandson to inherit your truck?  Financial estate planning is key to ensuring that these things happen and that your loved ones are taken care of when you pass.

Four key elements of estate planning:

  • Last Will & Testament – This commonly known document allows you to legally specify what will happen upon your death, including who will ensure that your wishes are followed and who will receive your assets and belongings.
  • Trust – A trust is a legal entity that owns your assets and can be created while you are alive or created upon your death through your Last Will & Testament.  The terms of the trust allow you to stipulate how the assets will be managed and distributed, as well as who will benefit from the trust.
  • Medical Power of Attorney and Living Will - A Medical Power of Attorney, often called a Healthcare Proxy, is a signed legal document in which you name an individual person as your healthcare decision-maker in the event that you cannot make those decisions for yourself. A Living Will, or Advanced Medical Directive, outlines your wishes regarding medical care should you become incapacitated, terminally ill, or otherwise unable to communicate your wishes. This document provides guidance as to your care in the event that you are unable to communicate your choices.
  • Financial Power of Attorney – Much like a Medical Power of Attorney specifies someone to act in your stead should you be unable to act, a Financial Power of Attorney dictates who you allow to make financial decisions on your behalf.

What is the difference between an estate planner and a financial planner?

An estate planner focuses solely on what happens to your assets and finances upon your death, while a financial planner is focused on managing your finances and assets while you are alive. There are financial planners who specialize in estate planning and, at Plan 4, Inc., we have a diverse team equipped to meet for your estate planning needs.

Estate Planning Basics

When it comes to estate planning, there are several basic terms that you need to be familiar with.  Your estate includes all assets that you, the testator, either own or have a controlling interest in.  The executor of your estate is the individual named in your Last Will & Testament as being responsible for disposing of your assets and liabilities after your death, as well as establishing any trusts created under your will.  A trust is a legal vehicle created either while the grantor, or person funding the trust, is alive or under the terms of their will.  Beneficiaries are those individuals named in a will or in a trust document as recipients of assets.  A trustee is named in a trust document as the individual responsible for the management, investment, and distribution of trust assets.

Estate Planning First Steps

There are several things that you must do when considering developing an estate plan. First and foremost, you must simply perform an inventory of your belongings. Take a step back and objectively consider your financial portfolio and assets. Once you have taken a serious look and inventoried your assets, decide what you want to have happen with each asset and who will receive a bequest. Once again, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy. Some people decide to divide things evenly between their beneficiaries while others consider the particular needs of each of their heirs. Once you have decided what plan works best for you and your loved ones, you can move forward with speaking to a professional. Schedule an appointment with your financial advisor or estate planner and bring the information you’ve compiled to help aid in the estate planning process.

Key Takeaways

Effective Estate Planning is vital to determining what happens to our assets after we pass on. Estate planning also provides us the benefit of confidence from knowing that our loved ones, and others who depend on us for financial security, will be well cared for after we pass on. Meet with a trusted financial advisor today to begin developing your comprehensive estate plan. We are also available to review your current plan and ensure that your estate is set up to meet your needs.

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