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How to Use Estate Planning to Leave a Legacy Beyond what You Own

Your “estate” is made up of everything you own—from your personal possessions, furniture, mementos, and artwork, to your home, car, bank accounts, and insurance.

Estate planning so commonly focuses on your stuff and on your loved ones. But does that really cover it all? What about you—who you are and your values, insights, stories, and experiences?

Your wealth is much more than just your financial assets and estate planning should be more than about simply who gets what. Your wealth includes not just what is tangible but what is intangible. If you had a voicemail from a parent shortly before they passed, how much would it matter to you to save that voicemail forever? And how devastated would you be if it were accidentally erased?
Before hiring an estate planning lawyer, understand the difference.

Many estate planning attorneys take a “one-size fits all” approach with their clients; they do this so that they can work with as many people as possible in a short period of time. The problem is that the client has an impersonal experience—but worse than that, this way of planning can lead to unintended results in the long run for the family.

When lawyers do not take the time to listen and consider a family’s personal circumstances, the result is that your Will & Trust Documents do not end up reflecting what your family really wants to happen. And usually there is no review or updating, so the plan quickly becomes outdated and does not work when your family needs it most.

So even though you may pay less up front to get a standard set of documents (or even documents that are customized for your family), things end up much more expensive in the long run. Plus, you leave your family at risk of having to deal with an expensive, unnecessary court process during a time of tremendous grief.

Wills & Wellness is right for you if you want to know that your plan will actually work when you and your loved ones need it the most. If all you want is a set of legal documents, there are plenty of online resources you can use to create them. Or you can go to a traditional estate planning lawyer.

If what you want is to know you’ve got a plan in place that will make things easy for your loved ones no matter what happens when, we’re the right fit for you.

Here are some of the ways we are different from most estate planning lawyers:

  1. Flat fees and no surprises. All of our fees are fixed fees agreed to in advance. At our initial meeting you will choose the level of planning and fee that works best for your family, so there will never be any surprises.
  2. We keep you informed and make sure your plan works. We don’t just prepare a set of legal documents for you and send you on your way. We make sure your assets are owned in the right way, we make sure your kids’ well-being is properly planned for, and we ensure everyone you’ve named in your plan knows what to do if anything happens to you.
  3. We review your plan at least every 3 years and annually through our Family Wealth VIP Membership program. We foster a lifetime, ongoing relationship with our clients. Throughout your life, things change. You change; your assets change; your family changes; the law will definitely change.
  4. We have a whole team in place for you. Our team is ready to answer your quick questions and to make the planning process incredibly easy and painless for you and your family. And, we have a clear process for helping you make sure that your assets are titled in the right way, both now and over your lifetime.
  5. We help you get your legal and financial house in order. We help you make smart choices about things like buying insurance, saving for college, and retirement planning so you never spend more than you have to or get taken advantage of by unscrupulous sales people.
  6. Legacy planning is a cornerstone of our practice. We believe that planning is about much more than just the transfer of your financial wealth. With all of our plans, we include a process to help you transfer your most important personal wealth to your loved ones, including your intellectual, spiritual and human assets—who you are and what’s important to you.
Before you engage an estate planning lawyer to help you plan for the well‐being of your money, your family and your life, there are questions you need to ask. You need to ensure that the estate plan you put in place will really work when your family needs it and won’t end up just a pile of worthless paper after you are gone.

Don’t let a set of legal documents become false security that keeps you from doing what’s best for your loved ones.

 


Article contributed by Wills & Wellness.

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