Overcoming the complexity of estate planning

It is important to develop a plan to assure that your family is taken care of after your death and that someone can help manage your affairs and health if you ever become incapacitated. With assistance, you can develop an estate plan that meets these goals.

Estate planning

Estate planning is a process where you instruct others on the distribution of your assets after you die or your care if you become incapacitated. It involves taking inventory, placing a value on your assets, and deciding who shall receive this property.

Taking inventory

Your estate includes property held in your name, assets in your living trust and property held with others. This property usually includes your home and its contents, vehicles, insurance policies and retirement accounts and annuities.

It is also important to place a value all your assets. This may require the assistance of financial planners and accountants.

In this phase, you also need to make decisions on individuals you trust and have the time and competency to serve as your estate executor. You should rely on these standards to select agents for your financial and health powers of attorney.


After taking this inventory and selecting an executor and agents, it is time to review beneficiaries, account titles and insurance coverage.

Attorneys can draft estate documents such as your will, trusts, and powers of attorney. Carefully review and seek advice before executing these documents.


You should regularly review your plan especially if there are life changes such as moving, birth of grandchildren, death of a beneficiary, divorce, or changes to your income, business, or portfolio. Tax law changes may also necessitate review.


You need to plan for the possibility that you will be unable to make important financial, health and end-of-life decisions because of an accident or health problem. A general durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney and a living will authorize agents you appoint to make these decisions on your behalf.

Disability income insurance can provide financial benefits if you become incapacitated. These may be obtained as a rider to a life insurance plan or as a separate and sometimes tax-free policy.

Attorneys can assist you with making these decisions. They can also develop a plan and documents that meet your needs.