Welcome to the Estate Planning Page That Will Make You Laugh, Cry, and Plan for the Future – All at the Same Time!
Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Estate planning, ugh, that sounds boring.” But trust me, it’s not! Estate planning is all about taking control of your future and making sure that you and your loved ones are taken care of, no matter what happens. And with our trademark humor (and the expertise of our team of estate attorneys), we’ll make sure that you have a good time while doing it.
So, what can you expect from this page? Well, we’ll cover everything from wills to trusts to power of attorney. We’ll break down all the legal jargon into language that even I can understand. And we’ll make sure that you leave this page feeling informed, empowered, and ready to take control of your future.
But before we dive in, let me just say this: estate planning isn’t just for the rich and famous. It’s for anyone who wants to protect their assets, their loved ones, and their legacy. So whether you’re a Hollywood A-lister or just a regular Joe (or Jane), this page is for you.
What Is an “Estate” exactly?
Now your estate is the collection of everything you own, your business, money, property, vehicles, assets, and other personal belongings like grandma Bessies favorite necklace. No matter how much you own, those things will need to go somewhere after you pass away. That is exactly where estate planning and asset protection come in.
Estate planning allows you to prepare for what happens to your estate when you pass away. Many people feel that an estate plan is only for rich people, but that isn’t the case. If you own anything of value or if you have dependents who need to be cared for if you were to pass unexpectedly, you should have a plan in place.
The last thing you want is for your “Estate” to go to the state courts and enter PROBATE where a judge will be appointed to hire an attorney that will go out and find everything you own, gather it up and then decide who the items go to. Now during this process family members are torn apart due to the lack of guidance or direction in an estate plan that spells out who gets what and what your remaining wishes were.
Importantly, an estate plan also describes the kind of care you want should you become incapacitated (unable to care for yourself), and who will handle your affairs if you can’t. This is an important thing to plan for no matter how much money you have.
What Is An ESTATE PLAN?
An estate plan is a collection of specific legal documents that lays out your intentions and expectations for two general situations.
- What happens to your assets when you pass away as in who they all go to and who handles your financial affairs when you are gone
- What happens when you can no longer take care of yourself or your estate
Your estate is the collection of everything you own. That includes cash, investments, real estate, cryptocurrency, business interests, and any other personal property. When you pass away, all of those assets need to go somewhere and must be accessible. An estate plan lays out who gets what. In a nutshell it spells out who and which of your loved ones also known as Beneficiaries will get what and its 100% your choice to choose to give anything to anyone. This is how you can pass down family heirlooms, pass down generational wealth and more.
Just as importantly, an estate plan can also explain what you want loved ones and caretakers to do if you become incapacitated and can no longer take care of yourself. That covers health care, long-term care, who will manage your finances, and who will look after your children if necessary as well as pets.
67% of adults in the USA do not have a basic Will & Testament which is the most basic foundational estate plan you can have. It does not avoid probate which is the process by which your assets go to the state and they handle the settlement of your assets to those listed in your Will & Testament. However, it does save your estate a ton of money by having an organized list of your beneficiaries and what they all get along with a list of all the assets and the account information. This prevents the courts from having to hire an attorney to track down all the assets, and prevents the judge from having to randomly award assets to various family members that you might not even want to get any assets.
Again a Will & Testament Does not avoid probate. Probate is the process of verifying that your will if you have one is legal and that your final wishes are carried out. A will simply makes the process smoother because the court can use it as a guide to what you wanted.
Who Handles Your Estate?
Ideally you have created a will that names someone as your executor. The executor of your estate, also called a personal representative, manages your estate through the probate process. They handle tax bills, debts you hadn’t paid off, and other matters affecting your estate. The executor also oversees the disbursement of your assets to beneficiaries.
Most people nominate their spouse or child of legal age as an executor, but you can choose anyone. However, the person you nominate is allowed to decline, so make sure to choose a contingent executor or two.
Estate tax is applied to your estate before anything is distributed to your heirs, but it only affects wealthy estates. As of 2023, the first $12.92 Million of your estate is exempt at the federal level. You only pay tax if your taxable estate is worth more than the current exemption, and so very few people actually pay federal estate tax. (Any assets passed on to a surviving spouse are also exempt.) If your estate is worth that much, your executor is responsible for determining your taxable estate, filing the proper forms and paying the tax bill. Some states also collect a state estate tax such as Connecticut, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Main, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. Again you wont have to worry about paying tax unless your estate is worth at least $1million when you die.
What about Inheritance Tax?
Inheritance tax applies to those who receive the assets such as your beneficiaries. This is not the estate itself. This also depends on how much they inherit. The following six states have inheritance tax. Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. A surviving spouse is exempt from paying inheritance tax and sometimes a deceased persons children may also be exempt.
5 COMMON MYTHS ON ESTATE PLANNING:
Myth 1- If I have a Will & Testament I am now protected:
The answer to this is absolutely NOT. There is ZERO asset protection provided with Estate planning. When you get setup with asset protection it also comes with Estate planning as part of it so you get the best of all worlds. You protect your assets from lawsuits and creditors, your beneficiaries pay ZERO inheritance taxes and there is no estate taxes. Most of our clients choose to obtain asset protection because of all the additional benefits there are however a basic estate plan is better than nothing.
Myth 2-I am young so I don’t need to worry about it:
It doesn’t matter your age someone in their late 20’s who has multiple bank accounts, a car, a 401k or retirement account, debts, and personal property that needs to go somewhere should they die. Its not a fun subject to discuss you are your love ones dying but life is unpredictable and it’s a lot easier if you create a plan before you die. In fact if you want the basics, it can even be less expensive the younger you are especially with term life insurance vs being in your 50’s and 60’s.
Myth 3- I don’t need a plan since my spouse just gets everything:
Even if you’re married, you and your spouse should each have your own plan. An estate plan will prevent people from contesting ownership of your things and then potentially dragging out the disbursement of assets for months or more. There are also unique situations: what if your spouse dies before you or soon after you? Things could get messy if neither of you has a written plan. Its always best to have you both get one and make sure everything is in order.
Myth 4- My Family Will Know What To Do:
While we like to think that our family and friends will follow our wishes after we pass away, it’s hard to guarantee that without a legal document instructing them on what to do will actually happen. Unfortunately, people may act unexpectedly different when a larger inheritance is a possibility. There are also seemingly small things you may not even consider but that could lead to disagreements, like who will get that box of old pictures in your closet. We have seen some families actually be torn apart due to “My family will know what to do” and no one could agree on anything and it eventually tore the families apart which is sad and could have been avoided with an Estate plan.
Myth 5- Once I create a plan I am done:
It’s vital that you keep your plan and all documents current. If you divorce, do you still want everything to go to your ex-spouse? What happens if one of your beneficiaries dies before you do? Its good practice to review this every year.
So what is a Estate Plan made up of exactly?
An estate plan is typically made up of a variety of agreements such as a Will & Testament, Letter of Instruction, Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney and a life insurance policy. All of which are included in our Basic Estate Plan
Sometimes estate plans can obtain a Living Trust which does avoid probate but does not provide asset protection, or Irrevocable Trusts which gets into asset protection plans . It all depends on the size of assets and amount of overall wealth the person has. There is never a one-size fits all.
If you have a very basic estate plan needs, then you may want to take advantage of watching our Legacy Wealth Blueprint where you will discover the 5 shifts the wealthy take to creating long lasting legacy wealth and once you have watched it all, we will give you a free will and testament. If you need a little more elaborate setup, then we also provide an affordable Foundational Estate Plan which includes the following:
- Living Trust
- Power of Attorney
- Medical Power of Attorney
- Last Will & Testament
- Spill Over Will
- Term Life Insurance Policy (this is optional and will vary on the person being insured)
If you have more elaborate needs that require a form of asset protection then you would want to obtain an asset protection estate plan in place. This is typically for folks who own businesses, have assets and are accumulating more assets every year. You can learn more by going to our Asset Protection Page
To get access to signing up for our Foundational Estate Plan, please CLICK HERE to schedule your call with one of our Wealth Advocates who can better guide you through the process.
HOW IT WORKS
Everyone Needs a Will & Testament:
A Will & Testament or for short A Will states who gets your money, assets and property. Everyone should have a will. Over 67% of the US Adults DON’T have a Will. The exact contents of your will depends on what assets you have and what you want to do with them and who you want them to go to. Your will should also name an executor who will oversee the probate process and disbursement of your assets, once he or she has received letters of testimony which is a court order that gives the executor legal authority over a descendants estate and executors need to get one in order to begin administering it.
In the will you can make specific bequests to your certain heirs. Anything left becomes part of the residue of the estate and is distributed to a beneficiary you named in your will.
A trust is a legal document or legal arrangement that you can put assets into so that your chosen heirs can access them. In particular, a trust allows your estate to AVOID PROBATE for the assets in the trust. This can save time and lots of money if you know that you want to pass certain assets to certain beneficiaries.
Assets you move into some kinds of trusts are also no longer part of your estate and have specific tax advantages and thus makes your taxable estate smaller. Now not all Trusts are the same and there is a much larger variety of trusts out there, its recommended that you visit our TRUST page to learn more about the various types of TRUSTS
Since a Living Trust covers distribution of your assets and is under your social security number, some people create one instead of or with a will. A will can also create a TRUST every by pouring over into a trust “Spill Over Will” or by creating a new testamentary trust. CLICK HERE To learn more about the various types of trusts.
LIVING WILL OR MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY:
Not to be confused with a regular will, a living will or Medical Power of Attorney is super important because it details what kind of treatment and health care you want to receive if you become incapacitated and can no longer take care of yourself and whom you want appointed to make decisions for your medical needs.
One of the many benefits our Legacy Leveraged Wealth Accounts have is living benefits. To learn more watch our “Unlocking The Secrets To Long- Lasting Wealth: Discovering A True Wealth Creation Strategy For Your Business Utilizing The Same Dollar Multiple Times”
POWER OF ATTORNEY:
A power of attorney or otherwise known as a durable power of attorney allows you to name someone to make financial, legal and perhaps medical decisions for you. We always encourage to have a power of attorney AND a medical power of attorney so that they are separate in case you want two different people in those roles. As a power of attorney, they can manage your bank accounts, mortgage payments, change details of some trusts and buy/sell your assets on your behalf.
Without this document, a court will have to appoint someone. This person is legally required to act in your best interests, but you may want to name someone yourself for the peace of mind that comes from knowing that someone you already trust will be handling your things.
4-STEPS TO ESTATE PLANNING:
STEP 1-LIST EVERYTHING YOU HAVE:
The best way to start out is to make a list of inventory on all your assets. Identifying these up front can save a lot of time in the future, especially if you’re working with us on a joint plan with your spouse. Keep your list in a place where you can easily reference it and update it.Make sure to include the following but not limited to:
- All of your bank accounts with at least approximate balances and bank login details
- All investments you have
- Any retirement plans you have, including pensions
- Any real estate or property you own (in USA and Globally)
- Businesses you own, Wholly or partially
- Personal property of value, from your grandmothers wedding ring to your collection of trading cards
- Cryptocurrency or trading accounts
- Insurance policies
- Passwords and email accounts where you receive important information and communications
- All debts you owe
STEP 2- CREATE A PLAN
Once your asset list is completed, you can then start your estate plan. You will want to make sure you know who is going to be your Executor and who your beneficiaries are going to be. You will also want to think about who your contingent beneficiaries if something happened to your main beneficiaries. How you create your plan completely is determined by your situation. That is why there is significant benefit of working with an estate planner or having a company such as DoWhatTheWealthyDo.com assist you with your plan
STEP 3-EXECUTE YOUR PLAN
Your individual situation shall determine the exact steps you take. For some folks they might not have to do much at the moment other than signing some documents and paperwork, then storing them in a safe place and notify everyone involved in the plan that you have actually signed for. For others they might need to do a bit more once the plan becomes official. Maybe you will need to make changes on titles, sell a property, begin regularly gifting money and assets to your beneficiaries, it all depends on your unique situation.
STEP 4-REGULARLY UPDATE YOUR PLAN
Last step is to do annual reviews of your plan to review and make sure no changes are needed to be made. Things change such as people get divorced, or you have the birth of a new child or grandchild. Or in some cases a beneficiary may pass before you do or you have acquired more assets and need to add who they go to. Again annual reviews are a great way to consistently keep your estate plan updated.
As you can see there is quite a lot that goes into an estate plan and if you have any questions or want to learn more about our Foundational Estate Plan, please CLICK HERE (I will build this form out and get you the link) to schedule your call with one of our Wealth Advocates who can better guide you through the process.