Estate planning is key. Ensuring your estate documents are correctly in place often includes a team of professionals: estate & business attorneys, tax & insurance professionals, etc. At Buttonwood, we simplify the complexity and coordinate the team for you.

Whether it’s time to review your current estate plan, or you’re starting from scratch, you are the most important person on your estate planning team. You will be asked to provide necessary information along with what you want your plan to look like. If you aren’t sure where to begin, you’re not alone. Below are a few details you’ll want to think about before developing your plan:

Control People & Beneficiaries

You’ll need to know who you will want to make decisions for you (health, as well as financial). You’ll also need to know who you would like to receive your assets (beneficiaries) before you walk into your first estate planning meeting. Items needed include names, relationships, ages and special needs of your beneficiaries. You may also need to provide copies of business documents, financial agreements and divorce decrees from prior marriages of you and your spouse.

Objectives & Goals

It’s important to know, or at least have an idea, of your objectives for yourself and beneficiaries. While it can be a bit awkward to talk about, it’s also critical to evaluate your beneficiaries’ realistic ability to manage money.

Assets & Liabilities

Your assets & liabilities are both tangible and intangible items. Assets may include your home or other real estate, collectible items, vehicles, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement plans, health savings accounts, business ownership and other personal items. You will need to provide the estimated net value for each. It’s important to think about the value of life insurance death benefits too.

Liabilities are any debts you owe. These could include your mortgage, credit card debt, student loans, home equity loans or vehicle loans. Be sure to include both your liabilities and your spouse’s.

Your Estate Planning Team

Gathering items listed above is a great starting point on the road to developing your estate plan. Once you have this information, you can begin building your team of professionals, or you can engage with a more comprehensive group like Buttonwood. Although your team’s specialties may overlap in various ways, it’s critical to have multiple players to ensure you are receiving the best quality of care and ideas for your estate plan. Your team will work with you to determine assets that could be subject to significant estate taxes. As such, they will be able to provide real value estimates based on depreciation due to tax liability. With these high-level items in mind, you will be able to establish or refine your estate plan to ensure your beneficiaries are set up for future financial success.

If you are considering taking the next step to your organized estate plan, the Buttonwood Team stands ready to assist and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more.