Today we’re going to wrap up our series on the mistakes we often see in estate planning. While we’re all about planning here at Family Estate Planning Law Group (it’s even in our name), we know that some plans work better than others. Here are our last three reasons why:
Mistake #8: My Estate Planning Attorney Does Not Need to Know My Other Advisors
Many people come to this conclusion because they know that if their estate planning attorney spends an hour talking to their financial planner, they are going to get billed for it. Perhaps you have learned this the hard way. While financial planners, CPAs, insurance professionals, and attorneys practicing in other areas all concentrate on different things, they often overlap, particularly when it comes to your estate plan. Doesn’t it make sense for your team of professionals to start talking to each other now, instead of having to try to figure it out once you are not around to make decisions to clarify things anymore?
The solution to this problem is both simple and challenging. The simple part is to get your team of professionals talking to each other now. The challenging part is to find professionals who won’t charge you by the hour. Working with an estate planning attorney with an ongoing care program allows you to feel confident that they are coordinating with the people they need to in order to make sure your plan is going to work without always having to worry about what the bill is going to be at the end.
Mistake #9: Dealing with Too Many “Unfriendly” Banks and Financial Institutions
In our experience, the biggest challenge to implementing an estate plan after someone passes has absolutely nothing to do with their documents. It is dealing with the various financial institutions that hold their assets. Each institution typically has its own process and set of rules for what you must do in order to access the assets that are held with them. This means that for every institution you use, your loved ones will have to figure out a new process and deal with different rules. If you have assets with numerous institutions, the likelihood of a smooth transition of assets for your loved ones significantly decreases.
In addition to the number of institutions you are working with, which institutions you pick also matters. Some “friendly” institutions make it very easy to transitions your assets according to your plan after you pass (some of our favorites are Eastern Bank and Fidelity, and no, they did not pay us to say that), while other “unfriendly” institutions make it very, very difficult for no particularly good reason (we’re looking at you, Bank of America).
The solution to dealing with too many institutions is what we like to call “cleaning your financial closet.” Look at what accounts you own and ask yourself why you need them. See if you can choose one “friendly” bank and one “friendly” investment institution and consolidate all your accounts to those institutions. We have found that not only is simplification a great gift that you can give your loved ones, but most of our clients who have tried it have also told us how much easier it made their life too!
Mistake #10: Not Seeing Your Estate Planning Attorney on a Regular Ongoing Basis
We understand why people don’t go back to their estate planning attorneys. Estate planning is often viewed as a transaction where the attorney prepares some beautiful documents and presents them to the client, so the client can ride off into the sunset feeling blissfully secure about their family’s future. Sound a little too good to be true? That might be because it is.
The key to successful estate planning is to understand it as an ongoing process, not an event. Your life isn’t static, so your estate plan shouldn’t be either. Especially at a time like this, you should be able to call your estate planning attorney and make sure that everything is the way you want it to be.
Because this mistake can often mean the difference between plans that work and plans that don’t work, our solution is to recommend that clients only work with estate planning attorneys who have an ongoing client care program to ensure a regular review of your assets and estate plan without hourly billing (a strong deterrent from actually doing it).
Here at Family Estate Planning Law Group we believe that planning is crucial. We want to help you and your loved ones experience peace of mind during this challenging season by helping you avoid some of these estate planning mistakes. We believe that Together, We Plan for Life® To learn more about this, other estate planning topics, and our ongoing client care program, visit our website, explore our blog, and schedule your complimentary consultation today!