Why Bother With Estate Planning?


When we meet with clients, we get asked whether it makes a difference whether they have an estate plan. Before we walk them through the process, we ask what estate planning means to them. Because of how frequently estate planning myths are perpetuated, people responded that they don’t need a plan due to how few assets they own. Or they say that the assets they do have aren’t valuable enough to warrant a proper estate plan. We will address the 800-pound gorilla in the room by stating that estate planning is about what happens to our assets when we die—and this is a question that applies to everyone. 

Although this applies to our mortality, we also want to highlight that we have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t own an asset. Regardless of your status, everyone has wishes about what should happen to their assets when they pass away. People have spouses, children, and even businesses. When you die, what are your employees going to do? Protecting your business is a means of safeguarding them. The only way you can answer the question about what happens to your assets when you pass away is by having a complete estate plan. 

What Is a Complete Plan? 

Now, there is also a significant amount of confusion as to what a complete estate plan is. Many believe it comes down to having a single document: a will. If you think that having a will constitutes a comprehensive estate plan, you’re not alone. Many professionals throughout the country have emphasized this. Financial advisors, individuals, and even lawyers have given this myth legs. The fact remains that having a single document is not a plan. It can be a piece of one. 

Documents alone are not enough. What makes the difference is having the title of your assets coordinated with that document. It is as fundamental as it is overlooked. One of the biggest things we want to express here is that this cannot be achieved with a will. It can’t. Again, don’t feel alone if you think this. Frequently, clients come to our office and say that they either want to update or draft a will. We emphasize title because the difference in an estate plan comes down to title. If you haven’t coordinated title, you don’t have a complete plan. Title means everything, especially when looking at what happens to your assets when you pass away. If your document and the titles of your assets are not coordinated, then there will be extra steps. (Again, you can not do this with a will.) 

The Extra Steps 

One of those extra steps (and this is guaranteed) is probate. If a will was enough, meaning it could serve as a complete estate plan, then there would be no need for probate. So when conversing with anybody, mainly a financial advisor who gives estate planning advice and proposes certain documents, ask them this critical question: How does beneficiary designation impact the document you are suggesting? They won’t be able to answer that. Or if they tell you the truth, they will say that titling beneficiary designation completely negates whatever you put in your will. If you walk away with nothing else, remember this: Title trumps everything. 

Make a Complete Plan Don’t leave the future of your estate to uncertainty. Effective estate planning transcends a simple will; it’s about ensuring your legacy and wishes are honored without burdening your loved ones. Take a step toward securing your legacy by contacting J. Kevin Tharpe P.C. today. We are ready to ensure your assets are appropriately titled and your plans are fully executed. Act now for peace of mind—call us, email, or visit our office to set up a consultation.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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