top of page

News & Insights > Estate Planning

What is estate planning?


Estate planning ensures that your wishes upon death or incapacitation are followed, including:

  • what happens to your assets

  • instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die

  • financially providing for your loved ones after you’re able to


This is an ongoing process that should be reviewed with your estate planning attorney and financial advisor whenever there’s a major change in your family or in your net worth, such as a birth, death, marriage, or divorce, as well as if there’s a change in job status, residence, or financial holdings.

Image by Jove Duero
Why is estate planning important?


  • Ease the financial burden on your loved ones. Communication with your beneficiaries about your wishes and the intentions behind them will lessen uncertainty and pressure to make decisions in your stead. Estate planning also seeks to minimize the tax burden on your beneficiaries; without planning, taxes, probate fees, and other expenses can add up to a very steep bill.


  • Avoid discrepancies in legal documents that may complicate the inheritance process. Some assets such as a bank account balance or a life insurance payout move designates a beneficiary separately from a will, often established when the account is formed, or when the insurance is established. Though this overrides any benefactor that is declared in a will, if these two contradict each other, the designated benefactor may face a long delay for court action.


  • Avoid courts making important decisions that will affect the lives of those you leave behind. Without a will in place, the courts designate where your assets will go. They’re also responsible for determining guardianship if you have a minor in your care and there’s no will that reflects your childcare wishes.


  • Allow you to set up individualized plans for the people in your life. Every family has differences in circumstance, so planning with a financial advisor will enable you to put plans in place specific to the needs of your loved one, such as establishing a trust dedicated to funding long term medical care for a child. This will also ensure that your estate is divided equitably among your benefactors.


  • Maintain your Health Insurance Portability Act (HIPAA) confidentiality waivers. Part of the ongoing process of estate planning is keeping your health care representative information up to date so your medical information can be shared with the people you want it to be shared with. Without HIPAA authorizations, doctors may not be able to share information with your loved ones, which would impede decision-making on your behalf.


  • Keep your state residency status updated. Different states have different estate and income tax laws, as well as different statuses that affect the transfer of assets. These legal implications are important to keep in mind as you reevaluate your estate plan.


  • Establish a power of attorney. Estate planning also includes discussion about what affairs you may want to give legal authority over and to whom. It remains in effect if you are no longer able to make financial decisions on your own behalf but cannot be established once you become incapacitated.


  • Small business owners can ensure the future of their business. Including your business in your estate plan will prevent customers, employees, and family members from being left in the lurch. You also will be able to create a succession plan for transition of ownership and continued running of your business.


  • Avoid the probate process. Probate court can take a long time to settle or close an estate, depending on its complexity. The stress of your family, as well as the time it takes for your benefactors to inherit, will stretch just as long. It also makes the settlement of your estate a matter on public record, compromising the privacy of your family affairs.


  • Ability to incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan. Many people find personal fulfillment in philanthropy but can overlook it when it comes to estate planning. A financial advisor can help you meet your philanthropic goals, which can both support causes you value and establish a legacy for you and your family.

bottom of page