Atlanta Financial Blog

5 Steps You Can Take to Build a Great Estate Plan

5 Steps You Can Take to Build a Great Estate Plan

Rick Henderson, CPA, CFP®, AIF®
December 2, 2020

When I begin working with a new client it is not uncommon to learn that they have an outdated estate plan.  Some people think not much has changed since they last did their plan, while others have different reasons as to why they have not updated their plan. And some tell me they think that estate planning is only for the super-wealthy.

But that’s just not true. Life brings us lots of changes.  Over time, your net worth may grow, your relationships or family situation may change and tax laws may change. Having a current estate plan is important if you want to make sure that your assets transfer smoothly and stay in accordance with your wishes to your loved ones and organizations you care most about. A well-built estate plan can also help make things easier for your loved ones once you are gone.

So, how can you build a great estate plan?

Build the Right Team of Advisors

Your team of advisors should bring to the table a combination of excellent technical skills and a strong interpersonal component. It goes without saying that strong technical expertise is absolutely necessary for a great estate plan. In addition to expertise and credentials, other important characteristics to look for are their capacity to work well together and communicate.  How your advisor team understands you, your values, and your goals makes a big difference in the techniques and strategies they recommend when building your estate plan, ultimately giving you the best chance to attain your desired outcomes.

Begin with the End In Mind

Take some time to think about you, your family, and other people and organizations that are important to you.  What are your desired results under different scenarios? What happens with your assets?  Who is making decisions and at what point in time? Do you want to support any organization’s work that is important to you?

Having a clear picture of what you want to happen in certain scenarios will make it easier to share with your advisor(s).  They can then bring their perspective, experience, and expertise to help you refine your goals.

Create a Roadmap for Success

Once you have established your goals for your estate plan, it is time to get organized and establish a clear direction.  A great estate plan should encompass your entire financial picture.  While working with your advisor team, develop a roadmap that includes the documents (wills, power of attorney, etc.) and legal structures (trusts, partnerships, etc.) that you will need to put in place. This also includes how assets need to be titled, any changes that need to be made to beneficiary designations on retirement plans or life insurance policies, and any other ancillary matters that need to be taken care of.

Implement Your Plan

Coordinate with your advisor team and implement each step of the roadmap until your plan is complete and in place.  This may be the easiest part in the process, but it is critical for success.

Review and Update Your Plan

To keep your new estate plan strong and up to date, it is important to review it frequently.  As mentioned at the beginning, life brings us many changes. To make sure your plan stays meaningful and in line with your goals, it is important to update it when necessary.

Having an estate plan that accomplishes what is truly important to you is an important part of your overall financial plan.  If you have any questions or if there is any way your Atlanta Financial advisor can help you with your estate plan or your overall financial plan, please give us a call.

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