What is estate planning and why is it so important? If you’re even aware of estate planning, you might think that it’s only for the super wealthy or maybe you think of signing lots of expensive, complicated, legal contracts in an estate planning attorney’s office. Fortunately, your wealth manager can be a great help in this process. Since wealth managers are familiar with your finances, objectives, and goals, they can make your estate planning process more efficient and more effective. In today’s blog, I’ll share some fundamental points you should know about estate planning as well as how a wealth manager can help you.
Fundamentals of Estate Planning
When working on your estate plan, it’s essential to know basic terminology to communicate with your wealth manager more efficiently. Below we’ll answer common questions people ask their wealth managers regarding estate planning:
What is a Trust?
A trust is a legal arrangement in which a person (the trustee) holds legal title to property for another person (the beneficiary). The trustee has the fiduciary responsibility to manage the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. The trust document specifies the terms of the trust, such as who will be the beneficiaries, who will be the trustees, what the trustees can and can’t do with the trust assets, when the trust ends, and how the trust assets will be distributed. Trusts are valuable for a variety of reasons including avoiding probate, providing for disabled family members, minimizing taxes, and protecting assets.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process by which a court oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s assets. The process begins when the deceased person’s will is presented to the court. The court will then appoint an executor to manage the deceased person’s estate, which includes paying debts, taxes, and other expenses, as well as distributing assets to the beneficiaries. The court will also ensure that assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes. The process can be lengthy, expensive, and complicated, so working with an expert is vital.
How Much Does an Estate Plan Cost? How Much Does It Cost to Not Have an Estate Plan?
The cost of an estate plan varies depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the plan, the size of the estate, and the specific legal and financial services needed. Often, a basic estate plan—which includes a will, trust, power of attorney, and healthcare directive—may cost a few thousand dollars. More complex estate plans that involve assets in different states/countries, tax planning, beneficiaries with special needs, and other specialized services may cost more.
While the cost of an estate plan may seem significant, the cost of not having an estate plan can be even greater. Without an estate plan, your assets may be subject to probate, which can take a lot longer and cost a lot more than preparing an estate plan would have. Also, your estate may also be subject to higher estate taxes than necessary, and your assets may not be distributed according to your wishes. Furthermore, if you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself, without an estate plan that includes a power of attorney and healthcare directive, your loved ones may be forced to go to court to have a guardian or conservator appointed to manage your affairs. This can also be an even more costly and time-consuming process.
Overall, while the cost of estate plans can vary, the benefits of having one in place, including peace of mind and the assurance that your wishes will be carried out, should more than outweigh the costs.
Can a Wealth Manager Help Me with Estate Planning?
Wealth managers can be very helpful with your estate planning. They are trained professionals who provide you with advice and guidance on how to manage your finances and assets. This includes planning for your personal and business affairs in case of your disability and the transfer of your wealth to your beneficiaries if you pass away. Planning for your estate involves communicating what you want to have happen using various legal documents like wills and trusts.
A wealth manager can work with you to create an estate plan that reflects your wishes and goals while minimizing estate taxes and other potential costs. They can also help you review and update your estate plan regularly as your circumstances change over time, ensuring that it is structured to provide maximum benefit to your loved ones.
Work With a Wealth Manager
A wealth manager can provide a holistic view of your financial situation, taking into account all of your assets and liabilities, as well as your long-term financial goals. This can help ensure that your estate plan is aligned with your overarching financial strategy and is designed to meet your specific needs and objectives. Overall, working with a wealth manager can help ensure that your estate plan is well-designed, comprehensive, and integrated with your overall financial and tax strategies, providing peace of mind and assurance that your wishes will be carried out.
How certain are you that you’re making the best financial decisions? At Elite Wealth Management, we safeguard our clients’ financial position for the long term. Whether you’re a professional who owns a practice, an entrepreneur, or a professional athlete, Elite Wealth management helps you manage your wealth the way that you would if you had the time and expertise to do it yourself. Let’s work together to get your financial goals accomplished. Elite Wealth Management is in San Diego but works with clients all over. We’re always happy to help you with all of your wealth management needs. Reach out by calling (323) 314-0202 or clicking here.