Everyone Needs an Estate Plan!

Affiance Financial |

As a part of our mission to help clients achieve long-term success, Affiance Financial is urging clients to move forward with a comprehensive estate plan. In addition, we are encouraging our clients to take action by completing a health care directive as part of this plan. The time for estate planning is when we are healthy.

While the subject of planning for death can be delicate and uncomfortable, it’s imperative for the continued health of your estate and your loved ones. In fact, this discomfort often leads to procrastination in estate planning, which explains why only half of Americans have the necessary documents in place, according to Forbes Magazine (March 1, 2010).  As your advisor will tell you, planning for the end of life is just as important as planning for life itself.


What is an estate?

Whether single or married, almost everyone has an “estate.” This estate encompasses all your property and could include:

  • Any real estate
  • Tangible property owned (e.g., furniture and cars)
  • Financial assets such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pensions, Social Security benefits and the face value of any life insurance policies


How do I plan for my estate?

Think of estate planning as a blueprint for the distribution of all your worldly goods after your death. This blueprint is of the utmost importance, since it may provide for your family and loved ones, or provide funds for any causes you are passionate about. Developing an estate plan will assist in the quick distribution of property to your beneficiaries. However, don’t forget the importance of including a health care directive, which ensures that even if you’re incapacitated, you will be cared for according to your wishes. [See side bar.]

As you plan for your estate, you will want to consider any intangible property, joint ownership or trusts that could be used in lieu of a will to transfer property upon your death.  Some estate-planning options include:

  • Making gifts before you die
  • Pension benefits or insurance paid directly to the named beneficiaries
  • A living trust
  • Taking advantage of certain state laws that provide partial payments to beneficiaries while the estate is in probate

Finally, remember that estate planning can keep the cost of transferring property to beneficiaries low, and minimize expenses overall. The best estate plans provide the maximum amount possible to named beneficiaries and the minimum amount to the tax collector. Before finalizing your plan, we advise you to consult with an estate-planning attorney, who your advisor would be happy to recommend.

What is a health care directive?

A health care directive is a legal document that can play a crucial role in your comprehensive estate plan. A health care directive is similar to a living will, but is more specific when it comes to your wishes under various scenarios. It is a personal testament providing direction for your family and loved ones in case you are incapacitated, or cannot competently represent yourself, while receiving medical care.

A health care directive, otherwise known as an advance directive, describes your end-of-life wishes. It can include:

  • Instruction for health care involving medical and non-medical preferences at the end of life. These directives can include treatment choices to receive, as well as treatments to be withdrawn, depending on the circumstances.
  • The name(s) of the person, or people, you choose to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so, thereafter referred to as your health care agent, or health care proxy. It is recommended that you choose one or two agents whom you trust. Naming your health care agent(s) is called creating a durable health care power of attorney.

Let Affiance Financial help

Proper estate planning can vastly improve the execution of your wishes and division of assets and property to your beneficiaries. In the event of your passing, Affiance Financial may well be one of the first places your loved ones will seek out to help manage the estate you’ve left behind. In anticipation of this, and in the best interest of our valued clients, we would like to offer our services as a second depositor for your estate-planning documents, in addition to your attorney.

We wish you continued health, as well as the foresight to plan proactively for the most secure future possible.