Estate planning is an integral part of wealth management, and it’s essential to have several basic estate planning documents in place including a will, a durable power of attorney, and an advance medical directive. It’s also important to ensure that the wealth you’ve worked hard to accumulate is effectively and efficiently passed on based on your wishes. Additionally, if you live in a state like California, you will want to avoid the costly and public probate process.
A smooth and effective transfer of assets, as well as the avoidance of probate, can be accomplished through three avenues of state law: contract, titling, and trust. A revocable living trust is the most common tool used by estate planners, and represents a fundamental building block for most estate plans. A trust allows you to be very specific about how, when, and to whom your assets are distributed. In addition to a revocable living trust, there are dozens of other types of trusts that can be established to meet various estate planning goals, such as charitable giving and tax reduction.
While we do not provide tax or legal advice, we do play a role in coordinating information with your estate attorney to ensure that your wishes and the information listed on your accounts are consistent. Although it may not be top of mind like goal setting and portfolio performance, estate planning is an essential tool that helps our clients to live happier, more peaceful lives.