Depending on where you are in your finances, you may have come across one or more financial advisors. They are often from referrals or just from your own network. The question often comes up, not just related to Estate Planning, where their cooperation (if there is an advisor) is essential, but in general, what value do they provide? What can they really do?
Bring up online legal document preparation services to a group of lawyers, Legalzoom being the industry leader with a gigantic marketing budget, you will invariably get a range of responses. Most Estate Planning Specialists would say that it is not especially relevant to their practice area since they only get high quality clients. People who are looking for a lawyer generally have legal issues they wish to sort through and require some level of expertise in order to have some peace of mind.
In estate planning, it is now relevant that banks and other financial institutions keep asking you to "save the environment" by allowing them to send statements over electronically. What happens as a result? No more paper, which means no more paper trail. The trail is all-electronic. You get all of your statements by email, which you will never print out. It just stays there.
As an estate planning issue, it is coming up more frequently now. Many couples find themselves getting married later and later in life and thus having children much later. So having children well into the 40s is not just a possibility, it is a legitimate option that many people will avail themselves of. The miracles of modern science allow for women to have children much later than used to be the case. Men of course have always had the ability to have children later in life.
Without question, given the right situation, life insurance is a useful estate planning tool. It is however, one tool (though sometimes admittedly a versatile one) in a fairly large toolbox. Sadly, for some who are purely in the business of insurance, it is the solution to nearly every estate and financial advising problem known to mankind.
The Estate Tax is really a term many people care about as much a anymore. However those that do have to care would know that the government can still take a large portion of their Estate upon death. The estate tax for many thousands of American families is still 40% after what is now a generous exemption level that excludes most Americans.
Many articles often focus on how Estate Planning is often predominantly a woman's issue. Often, the reason cited for this is that women have a mortality advantage. Men are usually less interested because they typically expect to die first. I do not think this is actually the reason. Plenty of men would rather not think about it because they would rather not think about death at all.
Many people avoid doing Estate Planning because they want to keep personal information from their children, and pretty much everyone else. Unfortunately, many people would rather keep secrets not just from their children, but from their spouses, attorneys, financial advisors and just about anybody else who really should know that assets exist.
A revocable living trust is how people in the state of California do their estate planning. We often remind people that a trust is essentially a contract that follows contract principles in many respects. Because it follows contract principles, it avoids probate, the main reason why many people to living trusts in California in the first place.