Estate planning-See How to Protect Yourself

Estate planning encompasses a large area of the law and financial planning. Insurance agents love to call themselves estate planners. Lawyers are estate planners. Everybody calls themselves estate planners.

The problem is you need to be your own estate planner. Let’s face it, no single “expert” is going to cover all the areas of estate planning. So, what do you do? You need to learn enough about the overall estate planning process so that you can at least direct the “experts.”

What Does Estate Planning Cover?

First recognize that estate planning covers two periods: during life and after death. The tools an attorney has and the financial planner has overlap into both periods. For example, a life insurance policy is considered by most people to be an after death tool used in estate planning. Actually, a life insurance policy is used in advanced estate planning as a non qualified retirement plan. Good estate planners can make a life insurance policy mimic a Roth IRA. You have to be careful to get the right life insurance contract, which means you had better have your attorney, not your life insurance agent, read the contract.

Living revocable trusts also “overlap” the during life and after death portions of estate planning. Here again, most estate planning concentrates on the after death aspects of the living revocable trust. (The trust can be called by lots of names: family trust, A-B trust, C-B Trust, living trust, loving trust, etc. It’s all the same thing.) The living revocable trust is actually a great management tool during life. It protects against the legal hassles that come if the “owner” (trustee) becomes incompetent. If each spouse has a separate trust, it will help with asset protection in most states, and the list of benefits the living trust gives you during your life goes on. My book, Protecting Your Financial Future, details uses of the living revocable trust. It is a great read, so don’t be afraid.

Retirement plans and benefit plans all fit under the topic of estate planning. Asset protection planning is a critical part of estate planning; especially in today’s litigious society. Tax planning is probably the biggest area of estate planning. It has an affect most people don’t realize. The IRS is your major impediment to success in every facet of estate planning. Everybody thinks estate planning is something only the experts can tackle. The problem is each expert only tackles a little snippet of the big picture. You’ve got to get your arms around the whole estate planning picture, because it’s your plan. I understand how scary it is.

Actually, fear of the unknown in estate planning is what is preventing your parents (and possibly even you) from doing their estate planning. I know Protecting Your Financial Future can help you overcome that fear and give you a big picture you can’t get anywhere else.

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