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The Importance of Developing Personal Estate Planning Goals

Many clients go to a lawyer to prepare a Will and Powers of Attorney simply because they believe those are important documents to have in place. They are correct—everyone does need these documents. But the documents themselves are only part of the equation. Successful and effective estate planning requires a thorough review of each client's individual goals.

Clients' goals fall into three broad categories: (1) inheritance/estate tax minimizing/avoidance, (2) certainty of disposition of clients' assets, and (3) protection of assets from the potential future need of nursing home care. In addition, there may be specific client goals, such as protecting a disabled child/grandchild, or ensuring that a specific child receives family real estate, or even successfully passing the family business to a child. Clients should carefully consider and prioritize these goals with their spouses.

A skilled and knowledgeable estate planning attorney can be of great help in guiding clients towards a better understanding of these goals. However, as a client, remember that this process begins with You, and what You want. Be certain that your goals are driving the estate planning process.

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