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10/2/07

Choosing the Right Estate Planning Advisor

What we create in life, we need to protect in death. Imagine that you are a successful entrepreneur. You are worth tens of millions of dollars. You own a lot of real and personal property and have many cash accounts throughout the country is various banking institutions. Should you have an estate plan?

Let us look at another side of the coin. Let us say that you are successful in life, but not in a monetary sense. You are very happy, are married with kids, and own your own home. You are a middle class person who does not struggle to pay the bills, but does not have much excess income. Should you have an estate plan?

What is an estate plan? Does it include a trust, a will, and a health care power of attorney or any combination of these documents plus more? What do I need? These are the questions that an estate planning advisor (usually an estate planning attorney) should be able to answer.

Everybody’s situation is different, therefore, everybody’s estate plan will be different. A good estate planning advisor will know this. Thus, the question becomes, how do you find a “good” estate planning advisor?

Let us face facts, estate planning involves the inevitability of death, therefore, if you are uncomfortable talking about your death or the death of a loved one, you will have to overcome this in order to advance your estate planning needs. A good estate planning advisor knows that death is a sensitive subject with many people, and as such, will act accordingly to your mentality. You should feel comfortable with and around your estate planning advisor and should never fear asking any question.

As I mentioned before, everybody’s estate planning needs are different, therefore, a good estate planning advisor should ask you about your situation and give you all of your available options as to your needs and wants. An estate planning advisor that tries to put your situation into a “cookie cutter” estate plan should be avoided.

Do not be afraid to ask about something you do not understand or about how something affects your estate. Many people have a fear about asking questions. They feel that they will be perceived as dumb or stupid if they ask too many questions. My thought on the situation is this; if myself and my family are going to be affected monetarily and personally by my decisions as to my estate plan, then I am going to ask any question that I deem necessary until I feel comfortable about what is going happening with my estate. You should feel the same way.

So, what are the answers to all of the questions posed above? The answer is that a competent estate planning advisor should be able to answer them. Find an estate planning advisor that can answer all of your questions, that you feel comfortable with, and that will create a plan that is specific to your needs and wants.


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