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Does “Estate Planning” Intimidate You? (It shouldn’t)


In study after study, over many decades, Americans have been shown to fear two things more than they fear death itself; public speaking, and running out of money. Most people suffer from one or the other, we suspect, and many are likely afflicted by both.

Van Wie Financial is not prepared to train people to speak confidently in front of crowds. We are equipped, however, to assist people with preparing comprehensive financial plans that have at their core the goal of financial independence. Integral to that is the exercise of Estate Planning.

Assets left behind at death comprise estates, and preparing for the disposition of estate assets is called Estate Planning. There is no estate too small for Estate Planning. Everyone has some combination of family, friends, real estate, financial assets, and digital presence. We should all care what will happen to our “stuff” when we are gone, regardless of how long we live. In actuality, Estate Planning should begin when people are young.

Most people know about the basic Will, which is technically called a Last Will and Testament. This fundamental document directs the disposition of assets, generally through a judicial process called Probate. The purpose of Probate is to determine subsequent ownership of your remaining assets, and to effect the disposition of those assets. A Living Revocable Trust (“LRT”) is a slightly more complicated form of asset distribution. Essentially, it works like a complex Will, but avoids the lengthy and costly Probate process. Further, it is a private, rather than a public, process. Making a Will should be a priority for newly-married people, and especially as they start families.

60% of Americans are intestate, meaning that they have neither a Will nor a Living Revocable Trust. When intestate people pass on, the governments of their states of residence determine final distribution of remaining assets. To us, this possibility is far more distasteful than actually discussing mortality and planning asset distribution. Would you be comfortable leaving your minor children’s care to the whim of a court if you pass away before they reach the age of majority in your state?

Proper preparation for life’s contingencies requires certain other documents to be legally prepared and executed. Privacy laws dictate that we put our wishes in writing as to our health care, incapacitation, and anything else that may impair our ability to act independently and rationally as we age. We all need to choose other people to assist us if we become incapable of doing everything alone.

While planning and implementing investments is flashier and more exciting than discussing mortality and asset distribution, the other aspects of Comprehensive Personal Financial Planning (insurance, taxes, etc.) are also vital to a financially successful life. We can help by working with you and your other chosen professionals to guide the comprehensive process. 

Van Wie Financial is fee-only. For a reason.