Estate Planning: The Basics

Posted by John Inhulsen | Aug 16, 2022

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the development and implementation of a master plan that facilitates the distribution of your property during your life and after your death - according to your goals and objectives.

Without advance planning, you have little say about which loved ones or family members receive which assets. As a result, potentially more of your property may go to others, like the federal government, instead of your loved ones. If you care about how and to whom your property is distributed (i.e., you want your property preserved for your loved ones), you need to know more about estate planning.

Who needs estate planning?

At Inhulsen Law, we believe estate planning is for everybody - not just for the wealthy. It is important to individuals with a wide range of financial situations. In fact, it may be more important if you have a smaller estate because the final expenses will have a much greater impact on your estate. Wasting even a single asset may cause your loved ones to suffer from a lack of financial resources.

Your master plan can consist of simple and inexpensive strategies to implement (e.g., a will or life insurance) ranging to more complex strategies depending on your estate and desires.  Each estate plan is unique to the individual, which is why consulting with an attorney instead of online forms is important.

The importance of estate planning.

You may need to plan your estate, especially if:

  • You have privacy concerns or want to avoid probate.
  • You want to make certain your assets are distributed specifically to those of your choosing and according to your wishes.
  • You have children who are minors or who have special needs.
  • You are a business owner.
  • You intend to contribute to charity.
  • You have special property, such as artwork or collectibles.
  • You have strong feelings about healthcare decisions.

How to design an estate plan.

Designing a plan is a process that is unique to each estate owner. Don't be intimidated or overwhelmed at the prospect. Even the most complex estate plan can be achieved if you proceed step by step. The peace of mind that comes with developing a successful estate plan is worth the time, trouble, and expense. 

  1. Understand your circumstances.

Begin the estate planning process by understanding your circumstances, such as your age, health or wealth.

  1. Clarify your goals and objectives.

When your circumstances and the factors that may affect your estate are clear, your goals and objectives should come into focus.

  1. Understand the strategies that are available.

With these goals and objectives now clear, you can begin to consider the different estate planning strategies that are available to you.

  1. Seek professional help.

Seeking professional help from an attorney will help you understand the strategies that are available and formulate and implement your master plan.

  1. Formulate and implement a plan.

After following these steps, you can formulate and implement a plan that works for you. Here are a few basic tips:

  • Make sure you understand your plan.
  • Rely on people you trust.
  • Keep your documents and information organized and within easy reach.
  1. Perform periodic reviews.

When you have implemented your master plan, be sure to perform a periodic review and, if necessary, make revisions that reflect any changing circumstances and tax laws.

Are you ready to safeguard your future?

At Inhulsen Law we take each client through our Educate, Equip, and Empower™ planning process.  We take the time to learn about you and your unique circumstances, educate you on the estate planning tools available to you, and work through our design process to equip you with a custom plan that empowers you moving forward.

About Inhulsen Law

Inhulsen Law is a Michigan law firm serving individuals, families, and businesses in the areas of business law and estate planning.  To learn more call us at (616) 747-0000, visit our website.

About the Author

John Inhulsen

John Inhulsen specializes in providing strategic legal counsel on business law and estate planning matters, and is consistently recognized by Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America for his work.