In the previous steps, you wrote down your personal family information and your personal financial information. This information gives you a fairly good idea of where you are today.
You also defined the goals and objectives that you hope to achieve in the event of your death or disability - and, you stated at least some of the professional advisors you would use to help get you there.
With that information before you, you now have a good idea of where you are and where you want to go. The next step is to develop a plan of action that will allow you to make that journey.
Although you have prepared yourself well for this journey, it is not one that you should make on your own. The path is often filled with danger and there are traps all along the way. Unless you are well schooled in the disciplines of law and taxation and investments and insurance, you should have a trusted advisor along with you every step of the way.
Some people do try to make the journey on their own in order to save a bit of money. It's certainly possible to save some money by purchasing documents over the internet. As long as the documents are purchased from a reputable company, they'll probably be legally sound.
When you do that, however, you lose the benefit of much needed advice from the experts. It's almost the same as acting as the general contractor when you're building a house. You're subcontractors will do what you ask, but they won't offer any suggestions either. That's alright as long as you have the time and energy to invest in the project and you're comfortable making all your own decisions. Unfortunately, most people are not in that position when it comes to building a house or planning their estates.
Our experience suggests that the development of a plan of action for an effective estate plan is 90% subjective and 10% objective. 90% of the time you're making decisions that affect your loved ones and 10% of the time you're implementing those decisions. When you buy documents on the internet, you're taking on the 90% part all by yourself - that's why the documents are so reasonably priced. When you hire a qualified professional to help you with your estate planning, 90% of the fee is really for help with the subjective decisions you'll have to make.
We strongly suggest, therefore, that you actively seek the advice of qualified professionals when developing your plan of action. Their experience and training in these matters can be invaluable. This is one area where you don't want to go on the cheap. After all, you may never know the results of your planning - but your loved ones will! And, the work you've done to this point should enable you to get all the professional advice you need for substantially less money than if you hadn't done any work at all.
Still, there is plenty you can do to get ready for a meeting with a qualified professional. For example, you have already recorded your intended beneficiaries in the event of your death. Now, however, we want to go a step further and actually record the types of gifts you'd like to make to your intended beneficiaries. We've provided a number of worksheets for this purpose, including the following:
|Gifts of Cash »|
|Specific Gifts of Tangible Personal Property »|
|General Gifts of Tangible Personal Property »|
|Gifts of Real Property »|
|Residuary Estate »|
|Appointment of Trustees »|
|Appointment of Executors »|
|Appointment of Guardians »|
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