Families get these 3 things wrong about estate planning, advisor says

In the wake of the pandemic, the topic of estate planning has suddenly become a lot less taboo, according to Lee Baker, a certified financial planner based in Atlanta. “We get more calls around estate planning,” he says.

Baker is the founder, owner, and president of Apex Financial Services and is a member of CNBC’s Advisor Council.

“The last 36 months shifted the mindset,” explains Baker. “A lot of people have taken this opportunity to reassess.”

Baker says there are three things that families are usually wrong about at first: They believe “it’s a daunting undertaking, it’s only for rich people, and it costs a ton. None of those are necessarily true.”

A recent Wells Fargo report found that many families dread talking about money and financial plans. About 26% of adult children would prefer to deal with their parents’ estate after they die instead of talking about it while they are living. 19% said they don’t mind if they receive nothing at all if it means they don’t have to have that talk with their parents.

“It’s not as daunting as you might think,” said Baker.

He advises looking at it with a new perspective. “Are there people that you love? If the answer to that is yes, spend the money to make their lives easier.”

“Estate planning is a lot like life insurance,” says Baker. “It’s less about you than the people you love and care about.”

Most parents plan to leave something to their children, but only 37% said they have a current plan in place to transfer their wealth, according to a Edelman Financial Engines report.

To help with some of the basics, like a will, there are some online platforms, says Baker. Quicken and LegalZoom are a few websites that offer templates for estate planning documents as well as some guidance in filling them out.

Otherwise, consult with a financial advisor, accountant, and attorney for less basic needs such as setting up a trust, designating other beneficiaries or guardians, questions you may have about appointing an executor or health-care proxy, or minimizing gift and estate taxes.

For assistance with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.