Estate planning is the preparation of managing someone’s assets in the event of their incapacitation or death. Financial advisors frequently work with clients in partnership with their estate planning attorneys to ensure that the client’s wishes are carried out.
Here are five frequently asked questions that our advisors often receive:
Question 1: What does the trustee or executor of my estate do?
In handling the estate, the executor is legally responsible for sorting out the finances of the person who has passed away, generally making sure that debts and taxes are paid, and that assets are properly distributed.
Question 2: What should we consider before we meet with our estate attorney?
There are four critical questions that we recommend you ask yourself before you meet with an estate attorney:
- Who is going to make the important financial and medical decisions on my behalf during my life in the event I can’t do that for myself?
- Who would I want to raise my children if they are still minors?
- Who is going to receive my assets? At the highest level, there are three buckets to consider: heirs, who are individuals; charities; and government, which comes in the form of estate taxes.
- How should my assets be distributed? You don’t have to have all of these details worked out, but having discussed the ideal way to have your estate distributed before you meet with an estate attorney will help make your conversation more beneficial.
Question 3: How often should my estate plan be revisited?
Creating an estate plan is not a “one-and-done” event. Whenever there’s a change in sentiment about how you want to leave your estate, or you experience a major life event, you should make time to revisit your estate plan to determine if you’d like to make any adjustments.
Question 4: What general advice do you have?
We typically offer two pieces of advice. The first is to not procrastinate about actually completing an estate plan. Knowing these documents can be changed at any time offers you the ability to ensure that your present-day circumstances are handled in the most ideal way possible. The second piece of advice is that “perfect can be the enemy of good.” You don’t have to have every detail of your estate plan figured out before you have it drafted. It’s always better to have something in writing rather than risk leaving your wishes to chance if something should happen to you.
Question 5: How does Private Ocean help clients with estate planning?
Our clients sometimes ask us to attend meetings with their attorney, and we can review their estate plan with them. We talk to our clients perhaps more often than they meet with their attorney, so we may hear about life changes that could be worth the client’s time to share with their attorney, who can help revise their estate plan.
For more information on estate planning, we encourage you to visit our website.
Zach Mangels is a financial advisor and principal at Private Ocean Wealth Management, specializing in retirement planning, education planning, and estate planning. He has a master’s degree in Financial Planning and is a Certified Financial Planner. Zach believes that an advisor plays two important roles for a client: To provide context for their financial situation and to act as a sounding board for major financial decisions. In every relationship, his goal is to provide a big picture for his clients that is both practical and forward-thinking.