Frequently Asked Questions

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of managing, administering and distributing assets during life and after death.

What are the benefits of Estate Planning?

Estate planning allows for the systematic, calculated transfer of assets to those selected to benefit from receiving those assets. Estate planning eliminates, as much as practical, unknown and uncertain outcomes regarding the distribution of assets at the death of the client.

Is Estate Planning only for “the rich”?

No, estate planning is important for all income levels. Only one aspect of estate planning focuses on the size of the estate. Other equally valuable aspects of estate planning focus on the person and the relationships that person has during life. Estate planning also includes planning for incapacity, and not just death.

Is Estate Planning the same for everyone?

No, estate planning is unique to each person. While the tools used in each situation tend to be similar, there are no two estate plans that are identical. Each client has his or her own asset mix and relationship dynamic that requires customized counsel.

What is the process of Estate Planning?

At The Cardwell Firm, PLLC, estate planning starts with a conversation. We first discuss the client’s relationships and what factors encouraged the client to seek an estate planner. Estate planning is voluntary and selfless. By its very nature, the benefits of estate planning usually are not fully enjoyed by the client, but instead are for those who the client leaves behind. That is why this first step of understanding the client’s relationships is so important.

Next, we design a plan that most closely satisfies the client’s stated goals and objectives. The final step is to implement that plan, both by the signing of the documents and by addressing the funding and continued maintenance of the estate planning vehicles.

When should someone start thinking about Estate Planning?

Estate planning should be considered early. Time is the biggest contributing factor in the success of an estate plan. Often clients wait until it is too late before reacting to life circumstances. If a parent or loved one is incapacitated or has died, he or she is no longer able to sign estate planning documents. Because no one can predict these inevitable circumstances, the sooner the client engages an estate planner, the better the result for the client and the client’s family.

Is Estate Planning a once in a life time event?

Estate planning is a process with events highlighting the process. While signing the estate planning documents is a single event, continued maintenance and funding is required to ensure the plan remains relevant and viable are necessary.

What are some of the points in someone’s life to review his or her estate plan?

Major life events usually forecast the need to update, or at least review, a client’s current estate plan. Such events include: marriage, divorce, birth, death and retirement. Other life events, such as a child turning eighteen, can trigger the need to update the parent’s plan as well as consider creating a plan for the now-adult child.

What other professionals do you work with?

An estate planner is only one valuable member of the client’s “team.” Other members include financial advisors, accountants and life insurance agents. We all have our roles and we all rely on each other to complete the overall strategy of providing for the client’s lifelong, and generational, goals.