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3 Steps to Estate Planning (Including 1 You’ve Never Thought About)

If you read nothing else in this article, read this: Don’t wait for the death of someone close to you to decide estate planning is important.

My friend Charlie was a year younger than me. We went to UCLA together. He was one of my best friends throughout adult life, and he died unexpectedly earlier this year.

“I began to wonder, how can I make this process easier on my own family and my clients?”

As is common when someone like Charlie passes away, there was a burden on his family beyond their grief. The list of tasks - from planning the funeral, to caring for his minor daughter, tracking down his assets and figuring out all his passwords - was long.

Besides being stricken at the loss of my friend, it also rocked my world. I began to wonder, how can I make this process easier on my own family and my clients?

It’s Going to Be Hard, But It Can Be Easier

We’re always surprised when someone dies. Yet, death is a certainty. And loved ones will bear the weight. It doesn’t have to be as difficult as it was for Charlie’s family and so many others, however. 

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Meet with an estate planning attorney.

The first thing you should do is meet with an estate planning attorney to draft documents that give instructions for what your family should do in the event you die or are incapacitated. 

I made this recommendation and #2 below in 2017after another friend of mine, Paul, had a close call with a cardiac arrest despite being in excellent physical shape.

These documents include, but are not limited to:

  1. Will
  1. Power of Attorney 
  1. Advance Health Care Directive 
  1. HIPAA Release

2. Meet with a fiduciary advisor.

Next, you should meet with a fiduciary advisor who can help you make sure you have a comprehensive wealth transfer plan. Steps to take include, but again, are not limited to:

  1. Review all your insurance needs and take recommended steps, including review of beneficiaries to ensure you are appropriately covered and protected. 
  1. Assign beneficiaries for bank accounts with the transfer on death (TOD) feature.
  1. Review and update beneficiaries for IRAs and 401k plans.
  1. Set up and fund a living trust to ensure a smooth transfer of assets and avoiding probate and public disclosure (for California residents this is a best practice).
  1. Make sure the assets you expect to pass down to beneficiaries are tax optimized.

Now, I want to take this a step further. If you were to score your readiness for your death on a scale of 1 to 100, basic estate planning might give you a 50 or 60.

I want to show you how to get your score up to 80, 90 or even 100. I’d like to introduce you to Everplans.

3. Take out all the guesswork with Everplans and Lifeguard Wealth.

I am excited to announce a new partnership with Everplans, a service that stores, organizes and shares with trusted family members, close friends and advisors just about everything your loved ones need to know after you die.

I’m guessing you’ve never thought about some of these, if any. In addition to storing all the above documents, Everplans guides you through storing other important information:

●The master password for your password manager

●The PIN for your phone

●Identify your monthly bills and how you pay (monthly, quarterly, other?) them 

●How to work all those remote controls (which only you know how to do!)

●Stories behind precious family heirlooms

●If you have young kids, guidelines for how you want them raised

●How to care for pets, vaccination records and other documents

●Pictures, videos and letters you want to leave behind

The cloud storage of all this information is both HIPPA and SOC 2 compliant, using military-grade encryption to ensure your important information is well protected.The system will only release this information to those you designate in the event of your death. Any of those trusted persons can trigger this process. If they suspect you have died – in a natural disaster, perhaps – they can trigger a verification process.

At Lifeguard Wealth, we feel so strongly about the importance of this planning tool that we are going to be offering Everplans to our clients as a value added service and free of charge. 

I’m endorsing Everplans because I think it’s the best tool I’ve come across to prepare you and your family for your passing.And while I know that’s not something any of us wants to think about, the passage of time and friends forces us to. I know from experience.

Take Action, Because Estate Planning Can Never Wait As Long As You Want It To

Please don’t wait until you have to say goodbye to a dear friend or family member to take action.

Contact us today to learn more about protecting your financial future and how to get your Everplan started. 

By clicking on any of the links mentioned above, you acknowledge that they are solely for your convenience, not required to click. They do not necessarily imply any affiliations, sponsorships, endorsements or representations whatsoever by us regarding third-party Web sites. We are not responsible for the content, availability or privacy policies of these sites, and shall not be responsible or liable for any information, opinions, advice, products or services available on or through them.

The opinions expressed by myself and other featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of Lifeguard Wealth. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice.

© 2019, Lifeguard Wealth