Your estate planning should encompass more than the mere disposition of your property upon
your death. Before engaging in the exercise of planning your estate, you should consider all of
your plans and ambitions for the rest of your life as well as the years following your death.
Consider how you make your livelihood, accumulation of your property, your investments, what
you need for your old age, and all provisions you will make for your dependents. And, since life
has a way of having its own way, rather than the way you plan, you must provide for a wide
range of contingencies.

Estate planning is not a one time deal. Rather, estate planning is a continuous process. Your
advisors must have a strong handle not only on the technical aspects of estate planning but
also on people and human behavior. Life itself isn’t the only thing that might thwart your best
laid plans.  

An often overlooked factor in planning is family harmony. Keep in mind that money often
brings out the worst in some people, and often raises suspicions in others even though such
suspicions may not be warranted. While it is impossible to pull aside the curtain and peer into
the future, one should at least make the effort to keep things open and above board between
family members.

Estate planning goals include:

 1.        Provide maximum comfort and happiness during one’s life;

 2.        Provide for one’s family while one is alive, and able to enjoy their companionship,
including rearing of children, education, marriages, and other needs for embarking on their
own lives;

 3.        Maximize property passed on to beneficiaries after taxes and probate expenses;

 4.        Avoid tragedies that can decimate an estate;

 5.        Make meaningful and most beneficial charitable contributions;

 6.        Ensure that assets pass to those to whom you intend to pass them.

Estate planning tools include:


 2.        Retirement accounts;

 3.        Jointly owned property;

 4.        Wills;

 5.        Trusts;

 6.        Gifts;

 7.        Powers of appointment;

 8.        Private annuity sales, installment sales, and self canceling installment notes;

 9.        Business plans;

 10.        Durable powers of attorney;

 11.        Advance health care directives.