The Top 4 Estate Planning Milestones You Need to Know About

The Top 4 Estate Planning Milestones You Need to Know About

20 Dec 2021

Most people are aware of the importance of estate planning yet few understand the specific estate planning milestones that are essential to establishing a truly comprehensive plan.  Your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional, and your estate planning attorney play pivotal roles in shaping your financial future as well as that of your loved ones.  

Writing a will is not enough in the context of estate planning.  Your will is certainly important yet it is only one piece of the puzzle.  Let’s take a quick look at the components of truly comprehensive estate planning in Canton, OH, and beyond.

Establish Legal Directives

Estate planning involves more than addressing the distribution of your assets upon your death.  The manner in which you are cared for and make decisions prior to your death is of the utmost importance.  If you don’t have the right directives in place, your final years, months, and weeks could be that much more arduous for yourself as well as your loved ones.  


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The financial professionals at McGervey Wealth Management can coordinate an appointment with your estate planning attorney and set up a time to discuss your end-of-life decisions with those you love.  These meetings will center on legal directives.  As an example, your medical care directive details how you will receive medical care in the event that you cannot make sound decisions on your own.  

If you develop dementia or become incapacitated to the point that you cannot clearly communicate or think logically, your medical power of attorney will prove particularly important.  This legal tool names a trusted individual you authorize to make medical care decisions when you are incapable of doing so.

Durable financial power of attorney empowers a trusted individual to manage your finances in the event that you cannot manage them on your own.  This designated agent identified in the durable financial power of attorney will act in your best interest in the context of your personal finances and the law in your final years, months, weeks, and days.  The individual you select for this important role will pay your taxes and bills.  He or she will also be empowered to access and manage your assets. 

If you don’t like the idea of empowering another person to manage your finances and legal hurdles, your estate planning attorney will help you establish a limited power of attorney.  This legal document puts a cap on the selected individual’s powers.  As an example, a limited power of attorney can limit the individual’s power to sign legal forms and other documents on your behalf to execute financial transactions such as the sale of real property.

Establish Trusts

creating an estate plan

Your financial advisor and your estate planning attorney can also detail the merits of a revocable living trust.  This legal tool empowers you to designate part of your estate to certain people or causes while you are alive.  If you become incapacitated, develop dementia or become ill, the individual chosen as the trustee will assume control.  

The trust assets are transmitted to the beneficiaries you selected upon your death, meaning the time-consuming and unpredictable probate process will be completely bypassed.  This approach ensures a judge who has no knowledge of your family and its unique dynamics will not determine the fate of your hard-earned assets.  

There is also an option to establish an irrevocable trust.  This type of trust cannot be revoked or changed by the individual who creates it.

Identify all Items of Value

Even if you aren’t wealthy and lack a significant number of assets, it is still in your interest to meet with an investment advisor for comprehensive financial planning.  The entirety of your assets including real property, investments, and even items with sentimental value should be inventoried while you are still healthy and of sound mind.  

Sort through all of your belongings ranging from sports cards to antiques, art, coins, boats, motorcycles, and land to determine which items of value will be bequeathed to specific individuals or charities. 

Don’t forget about those intangible assets such as certificates of deposit, savings accounts, life insurance policies, business ownership interests, health savings accounts, and investment accounts.  This is necessary so that you have an understanding of the financial value of the gifts you bequeath to each loved one, friend, and cause/charity that is important to you.

Reassessment as Your Life Changes

Unless you have reached your 60s, 70s, or 80s, your life is likely somewhat dynamic as opposed to static.  Life changes ranging from marriage to divorce, starting a family, earning a promotion, and inheriting assets after a parent’s death impact your estate plan.  The challenge lies in figuring out how to choose the right fiduciary financial advisor for your needs.  The right fiduciary CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional can help you plan a financial road map for yourself as well as your loved ones as your life takes shape.  

Each major life change should trigger a review of your estate plan.  However, even if nothing changes in your life for several years or decades, it is still in your interest to meet with an experienced financial advisor along with an estate planning attorney to review your plan every couple of years.  

Laws change as time progresses.  The value of your investments and assets also change, meaning it is in your financial interest as well as that of your loved ones to reassess and potentially alter your estate plan as time progresses.  

Embrace the opportunity to raise financial planning and estate planning questions and concerns in the context of life changes, then proceed accordingly with the input of your trusted financial professionals.  Your financial advisor can suggest wealth management strategies optimal for your unique financial situation.  This invaluable input and guidance can empower you to enjoy your golden years without worrying about your financial situation or that of your family members.

At McGervey Wealth Management, we get to know you on a personal level and keep things simple, using common language everyone can understand. To learn more about estate planning milestones contact us today.

More About the Author: E. Michael McGervey, CFP®, CRPC®

Mike is passionate and skilled at helping clients solve complex financial challenges. He’s known for his thoughtful communication, educational approach, and exceptional customized service. Mike has been a sought-after source for financial television, magazines, and newspapers looking for insightful analysis. His expertise has been featured by CNBC, FOX Business and...