Estate planning, for most, has as its primary objective, the transfer of one's assets. On the surface, this appears simple, but a number of factors ranging from client fears, related costs, forgetting best practices when it comes to handling ones existing and newly acquired assets, as well as outsiders who seek to take advantage can all pose obstacles in the estate planning process.
Estate planning can often feel like going to the doctor to do your annual check-up. Many people fear facing the inevitable and putting off the tasks required to do an estate plan is often the path of least resistance.
Fortunately, if you've contacted an estate planning lawyer, you at least recognize it's importance and are making a very good first step. A large portion of clients are motivated by family members such as a spouse or child to ensure that an appropriate plan has been put in place to protect them.
Others, particularly those of high net worth, are motivated by possible tax savings to be had as a result of estate planning; however, the present costs and potential loss of control as a result of those techniques often outweigh a client's willingness to pursue them.
It's also not uncommon to find the rare breed of clients who take a deep and sometimes all-consuming interest in estate planning.
A simple, yet very common hurdle, is simply the cost of doing estate planning. Many clients are scared away by the initial investment associated with setting up a basic estate plan. However, if the estate planning lawyer has done a good job, the cost of establishing a plan and maintaining it, should only amount to a fraction of the cost associated with not having an estate plan in place. Not to mention the additional stress that can be lifted from your family members as a result of your advanced planning, which can be priceless.
Even the best estate planning requires regular review. Actions such as purchasing additional assets like life insurance, the creation of new accounts, or purchasing of real estate are all situations that should be revealed to your estate planning lawyer.
Failure to regularly review your estate plan and assets, may cause you not to receive the full benefits of the plan that you established. Often, something as simple as acquiring new assets directly in the name of the trust can save you considerable sums and help avoid unintended consequences such as probate at the time of your death.
Unscrupulous Third Parties
A difficulty, particularly for the elderly, are individuals who take advantage of clients' weakened emotional, mental or physical states to extract their wealth. Although it can be difficult to detect and opportunities are limited, at least part of an estate planning lawyer's observations will include an assessment of whether a client is being unduly influenced or forced to make an estate plan that is contrary to what he or she would request had they not been pressured.
As you can see, a number of factors are at play that make estate planning challenging for clients. That's why having an actual firm or lawyer that you have a relationship with can be crucial since they will be "plugged in" to your life and have semi-regular communication with you.