Begin planning now for that inevitable day

wise-money-with-kevin-theissenBy Kevin Theissen
Skygate Financial Group, LLC

National Estate Planning Awareness Week (Oct. 17-23)  is a reminder for all of us to make sure our affairs are in order.

Estate planning is a critically overlooked component of financial wellness. More than half of Americans, an estimated 56 percent, do not have an estate plan in place. Advanced planning greatly diminishes the hardships, financial or otherwise, that is associated with death.

National Estate Planning Awareness Week was adopted on Sept. 27, 2008 to help consumers understand estate planning, the need for it and how best to create a qualified team of professionals to assist in the planning process.

The purpose of estate planning is to develop a strategy that will maintain the financial security of individuals through their lifetime and ensure the intended transfer of their property and assets at death, all while taking into consideration the unique circumstances of the family and the potential costs of different methods.

A properly created team of professionals may include, but is not limited to, the financial/wealth planner, attorney, accountant, trust officer and credentialed insurance financial planners. This team works together for the benefit of their client.

Estate planning is not just about minimizing transfer taxes after your death. The primary goal is to provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones on a broad range of planning issues. A solid plan would integrate your investments, retirement, insurance, emergency, disability planning and more. It addresses issues, not only after your passing but also when you are alive, retired or disabled.

Some basic documents you might want to consider include:

  • Wills
  • Living Wills
  • Powers of Attorneys
  • HIPAA Releases
  • Health Proxies
  • Insurance Trusts
  • Revocable and/or Irrevocable Trusts

12 Step Program for Estate Planning

  1. Organize emergency and financial information
  2. Designate a person to handle financial and legal issues
  3. Designate a person to make health care decisions
  4. Communicate your health care wishes
  5. Plan for minor children
  6. Sign a will
  7. Create a Revocable Living Trust
  8. Get your insurance coverage in order
  9. File and confirm beneficiary designations
  10. Give back and make a difference
  11. Communicate your thoughts and prepare your beneficiaries
  12. Review, Revisit and Revise your plan every 2 to 3 years

So, do yourself a favor and take action on a solid estate plan. It may not be easy, but it is simple. Get started by finding qualified assistance to document and communicate your wishes … and get some peace of mind!

If you have any questions or are looking for more information on estate planning, please feel free to reach out to us or visit

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Filed Under: Business & Personal FinanceWise Money

About the Author: Kevin M. Theissen, principal and financial advisor at Skygate Financial Group LLC, has more than 20 years of experience as an investment advisor, wealth manager and tax professional.

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