Planning Spotlight: Estate Planning Fundamentals

Planning for the future is one of the most loving actions you can take for your family.
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As holistic wealth managers, CWM is just one piece of the puzzle that helps our clients live richly. We coordinate with other professionals in our clients’ lives for a truly cohesive approach to the financial planning process. While we partner across many disciplines – from taxes to mortgages to insurance – the estate planning component of a client’s strategy is one we consistently revisit during meetings. We collaborate with estate planning attorneys to confirm the necessary legal documents are assembled to help ensure a client’s estate is passed on to their heirs in the most efficient and beneficial way possible, protecting their legacy and preserving family harmony during a generational wealth transition.

We believe that planning for the future is one of the most loving actions a person can do for their family. Having a clear estate plan can eliminate undue stress for your surviving family members during an already emotional time. By giving them a clear roadmap of your wishes upon your passing, you are allowing them to focus on celebrating your life instead of trying to interpret your intentions.

A few years ago, John approached CWM with a request for us to review his financial plan. A widower, he had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Knowing that his time was short, John wanted to make sure that the appropriate documents and information were in place for his children upon his passing.

In looking through his plan, we found many things that we knew from previous experience would cause undue stress on the executor of John’s estate and his heirs. The first thing we noticed was that the person named as John’s power of attorney was his deceased wife with no secondary POA listed, thereby leaving John without someone to act in his stead should he become incapacitated. Secondly, John’s trust had multiple amendments which made it difficult to comprehend and was vague in parts. Thirdly, John’s estate documents were drafted 15 years previously in California, however he no longer owned property in that state and fully resided in Washington. We recommended that John should work with a local estate planning attorney to create new and updated estate documents to reflect his current situation.

John worked with one of the estate planning attorneys listed on our Professional Directory and was able to draft new documents that correctly outlined who he wanted in positions of responsibility. As part of his health care directives, he included clear instructions for when he wanted to stop receiving care in the hospital. Additionally, John was able to eliminate the trust as it was no longer needed. Working with the CWM advisory team to ensure beneficiary designations were correct on his CWM managed accounts, as well as reviewing beneficiaries and plans for non-CWM managed accounts and utilizing a transfer on death deed for his house, his assets were accounted for thereby avoiding the need to go through probate upon his death.

Not too long after John finalized and notarized his estate documents, he passed away. Since CWM had played a significant role in putting John’s plan together, we were able to work closely with John’s daughter Jenny, the executor of his estate, to ensure that the transition of assets went smoothly. Jenny had recently assisted in settling her mother-in-law’s estate and commented on how much easier it was to settle her dad’s estate as a direct result of all the planning and preparation John did before he passed. She was very grateful to her dad’s foresight and to CWM for providing practical assistance while grieving the loss of her father.

Having an estate plan in place is not just for clients like John. A clear and solid estate plan is a fundamental part of your bigger financial picture, as it can prevent heartache and discord for your heirs during an already emotionally fraught time. It’s why the CWM advisory team touches on it at every financial check-up.

Since 2001, Comprehensive Wealth Management has helped countless families navigate often-complicated wealth transitions and have called upon these experiences to refine a process that supports you and your loved ones through complex financial and life events. Visit Estate Planning Demystified to download a copy of our Estate Planning Fundamentals resource for more information about the essential elements of building an estate plan – starting with key questions to ask, which documents you need for your specific situation, and the important roles your loved ones and team of experts will fulfill.

As always, should you wish to connect with a CWM advisor to discuss estate planning and how it works in tandem with your financial plan in further detail please Contact Us or call (425) 778-6160 to schedule an appointment.

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