Estate planning is much more than will drafting.
Drafting a simple will is often quite simple. In fact, many wills are prepared using websites and automatic tools. However, in the abstract it is impossible to tell whether these simple wills are “good wills” or “disastrous wills”.
The place to start is with a proper estate plan. It is only against this plan that the will can be judged: does the will properly implement the plan?
The will is just one of the key documents that implements the estate plan.
As this booklet explains, proper estate planning is fairly straightforward, but not simple. Our role is to guide you through the
A elements of a good estate plan
A good estate plan should be:
- I should ensure that your legitimate estate goals are met.
- It should ensure that your goals are met at minimum cost, hassle and delay.
A fair plan must address:
- Your debts and legal obligations
- Your moral obligations
- Subject to these obligations, it should reflect your goals and aspirations, morals and choices.
An effective estate plan must not only succeed now, but in the foreseeable future. Ideally, the plan works in the face of reasonably foreseeable delay and changes in circumstances.
An efficient estate plan:
- Minimizes the risk of any challenge (recognizing that even unsuccessful challenges cost time and money).
- Minimizes the risk of successful challenge.
- Includes legitimate income tax minimization.
- Minimizes estate administration time and expense, including probate fees, legal and executor fees, and other fees, taxes, and expenses.
These goals may conflict. Frequently it is important to balance them and to make trade-offs.
Who should have an estate plan? Every adult.
There is no excuse for not having a plan unless you have a strong desire to inflict an expensive mess on your family.
Who should have a will? Almost every adult.
Sometimes your entire estate plan can be dealt with via beneficiary designations and joint ownership. Everyone else needs a will.