The estate planning process begins before you walk into an attorney’s office. Estate planning begins with a careful analysis and assessment of your estate planning goals and objectives. Estate planning begins with looking at what your assets are and who the intended beneficiaries of your estate are. Before drafting an estate plan, or meeting with an estate planning attorney, you want to take an inventory of the assets that you own, whether they are part of your estate or pass by beneficiary designation. Are your estate assets all in Idaho, or do you have property in states outside of Idaho. Do you own business interests with other family members or non family members? How are your brokerage accounts and bank accounts titled? Who are the designated beneficiaries designations on your life insurance policies? Who are the designated beneficiaries on your IRA Accounts, 401k Accounts, Simple Retirement Plans, Koegh Retirement Plans and other retirement accounts? When we look at who your intended beneficiaries are you want to consider how a beneficiary handles finances, if a beneficiary has an special needs, how the intended beneficiary’s spouse, family members and close friends handle finances, who has the potential to influence the way the beneficiary spends money, who the beneficiary’s current creditors are and who the beneficiary’s potential creditors are. Once each intended beneficiary’s strengths and weaknesses are assessed, you can determine what strings should be placed on a beneficiary’s receipt of your estate assets, or trust assets.
Always keep in mind that an estate plan is a living breathing plan and needs to accomplish your goals, but provide flexibility for changes in circumstances. As goals change and important life events take place, the estate plan can be updated to suit those new changes and objectives.