Discover the invaluable benefits that a meticulously crafted Estate Plan can offer, accessible to everyone regardless of income or wealth. Your Estate Plan serves as a comprehensive set of instructions, safeguarding your family’s well-being upon your passing.

Effectively answering critical questions such as who will manage your estate and how your assets will be distributed, a well-prepared Estate Plan transcends a mere legal document. It becomes a shield against the financial and emotional burdens of Probate, saving your loved ones both time and expense.

But that’s not all. A thoughtfully structured Estate Plan holds the power to:

  • Ensure your minor children are taken care of through the appointment of guardians that you select;
  • Minimize family drama and contention;
  • Plan for incapacity;
  • Provide a family-owned Business with a smooth Succession Plan;
  • Protect your children’s inheritance from your loss caused by bankruptcy, creditors, lawsuits and divorce;
  • Protect the future of loved ones with special needs while preserving eligibility for government sponsored programs;
  • Preserve wealth throughout generations;
  • Promote a charitable cause.

This Guide to Protecting Your Family Through Estate Planning provides you with the essential steps to build your Estate Plan.

Following these steps will help you create a personalized plan that caters to your unique needs. 


1. Define Your Objectives: Determine what you want to achieve with your Estate Plan. This could include decisions about how your assets should

be distributed, who should make decisions for you if you’re unable to, and any specific instructions you have.

2. List Your Assets: Create two (2) lists of your Assets:

First, make a list of your physical or tangible assets, such as:

Homes, land or other real estate.

Vehicles including cars, motorcycles, RV’s and boats.

Collectibles such as coins, art, antiques or trading cards.

Other personal property. You may want to make a special list of sentimental items or items passed down through your family – this can be easily overlooked.

When making this list, it can be helpful to get up and walk around your house – go through your closets, open the drawers – really examine what you have.

Second, make a list of intangible assets – these items that can be extremely valuable but are not in a physical form, such as:

Bank accounts (checking, savings, certificates of deposit).

Investment or brokerage accounts.

Retirement accounts – individual retirement accounts as well as employment

sponsored 401(k) plans.

Health Savings Accounts.

Life insurance policies.

Ownership interests in a business.

3. List Your Debts: Make a list of all of your debt, such as mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards, or any other debt that has not been paid off. A current list of debt makes life easier for your Trustee or Administrator as the creditors have to be paid before anything is distributed to your heirs.

4. Consider Beneficiaries and Heirs: Start thinking about who you want to inherit your assets. Anyone you choose can be on this list.

You also want to start thinking about how you want heirs to inherit your assets; when do they inherit; and what happens to a child’s inheritance if they predecease you.

Your Estate Planning attorney will walk you through such contingencies, but it helps if you have given this some thought beforehand.

5. Choose Executors and Trustees: Decide who you want to appoint as the Executor, if you have a Last Will & Testament (the person responsible for carrying out your wishes) or who will be the successor Trustee(s), if you establish a Revocable Living Trust. You also need to think about alternates in case your first choice declines the appointment.

6. Select Guardians for Minor Children: If you have minor children, determine who you would like to appoint as their legal guardians in the event of your passing. Also think about who you would like to be an alternate in case your first choice is not available. For example, your sister Donna and her husband Steven would do a great job raising your children. But if Donna predeceases you, do you want Steven raising the children by himself? Maybe . . . maybe not.

7. Review Existing Documents: Locate any existing Estate Planning documents (such as a Will, Trust, or Power of Attorney). Also, make sure that you have a digital copy available to send to your Estate Planning attorney.

8. Consider a Living Will or Advance Healthcare Directives: A Living Will is a legal document that states your wishes for end-of-life medical care if you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. For example, if you got into a horrible car accident and became comatose, your Living Will would include whether you’d want to be on artificial life support and for how long.

A Living Will along with a Health Care Power of Attorney can:

Provide clear instructions for healthcare providers

Allow you to appoint a healthcare proxy who can make decisions on your behalf

Ensure that your wishes for medical treatment are respected

Ensure you receive medical care that is consistent with your values and beliefs

Relieve family members of the burden of making difficult decisions about your end-of-life care

Give you peace of mind and a sense of control over serious situations

 9. Review Life Insurance Policies: Gather information about any life insurance policies you have, including policy numbers, beneficiaries, and coverage amounts. You and your spouse/partner should have a conversation with your life insurance agent about the type of policies that you have, and the amount of coverage you have.

10. Think About Business Interests: If you own a business, whether by yourself, with your spouse, with another partner, or with family members, consider what you want to happen to it in the event of your passing. This may involve Business Succession Plan. For more on Business Succession, see Bonus Information #1 below.



Be prepared to provide copies of each of the following:

1. Identification: Government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license or passport).

2. Marriage and Divorce Documents: If applicable, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

3. Birth and Adoption Certificates: Copies of birth certificates for yourself, your spouse, and any children.

4. Property Deeds or Titles: Documentation for real estate, vehicles, and any other major assets you own.

5. Bank and Investment Statements: Copies of recent statements for bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, and any other investments.

6. Retirement Account Information: Information about your IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions, and other retirement accounts.

7. Life Insurance Policies: Copies of policies, including details about beneficiaries and coverage amounts. If you are an owner or part-owner of a business, your company may have Key Man Life Insurance; be sure to obtain a copy of this policy as well.

8. Business Documents: If you own a business, bring relevant documents such as Partnership Agreements, Articles of Organization, Articles of Incorporation, Operating Agreements and Buy/Sell Agreements.

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Bonus #1

For small business owners, utilizing an Estate Planning attorney with expertise in Business and Corporate law is crucial for small business owners seeking to establish a comprehensive Business Succession Plan. Small businesses often represent a significant portion of an owner’s assets, and without a proper plan in place, the continuity of the business may be jeopardized in the event of unforeseen circumstances such as death, disability, or retirement.

An attorney well-versed in both Estate Planning and Business/Corporate law can navigate the complexities of transferring ownership seamlessly. Most Estate Planning attorneys do not have experience with Business/Corporate law or Business Succession Planning so don’t assume any attorney you talk to is qualified. Do your due diligence before you hire anyone.

Being able to work with a qualified attorney will enable you to have an effective succession plan to minimize tax implications, facilitate the smooth transition of leadership, and ensure that the business remains viable and profitable in the hands of the designated successors.

Just as an important as planning for a smooth transition, a skilled attorney can help mitigate potential conflicts among family members or business partners by outlining clear guidelines for ownership transfer and decision-making processes.

The Lawler Group has the experience and expertise to help you construct a Business Succession Plan for the business that you have put your heart and soul into. Please contact us if you have any questions about preserving the legacy of your business. 

Bonus #2

Here’s another valuable suggestion that could significantly enhance your peace of mind.

When seeking an Estate Planning attorney, consider engaging someone who offers an Annual Client Care Program. This unique service goes beyond the traditional scope of legal representation, providing ongoing support and proactive measures to ensure that your Estate Plan stays current and aligned with your evolving needs.

Here are a few compelling reasons to choose an attorney with an Annual Client Care Program:

1. Annual Updates: Life is dynamic, and your circumstances may change over time. An Annual Client Care Program ensures that your Estate Plan is reviewed and updated each year to reflect any alterations in your family, finances, or legal regulations. Issues that might be updated include your assets, your beneficiaries, successor trustees and/or guardians.

2. Relationship/Accessibility: With this program, you’re not just a client; you’re part of an ongoing and continuing relationship. Access to your attorney throughout the year allows for timely consultations addressing any concerns or questions that may arise.

3. Annual Family and Advisor Meeting: This crucial annual gathering involves a comprehensive discussion with your family members to ensure they are well-informed about your wishes. Additionally, this meeting includes sessions with your Estate Planning attorney and other trusted advisors, such as your CPA, insurance agent, and financial advisor. Together, your team will review any changes in your personal and financial situation and collaboratively recommend adjustments to enhance the protection of your family. This proactive approach ensures that your Estate Plan remains up-to-date and aligned with your evolving needs.

4. Peace of Mind: Knowing that your Estate Plan is being actively managed and adapted as needed can provide a significant sense of security. This type of Program emphasizes a proactive approach, helping to avoid potential issues before they become problems.

5. Educational Resources: Many programs include educational resources and events designed to keep you informed about changes in Estate Planning laws, financial strategies, and other relevant topics. This ongoing education empowers you to make informed decisions about your estate.

6. Cost Savings: Enrolling in an Annual Client Care Program not only ensures long-term financial prudence but also offers a transparent fee structure. The regular updates and preventive measures received from this program provide a significant savings on legal fees. The most effective Client Care Programs are designed with a straightforward annual flat fee covering updates, attorney accessibility, educational resources, and the Annual Family/Advisor Meeting. This structure eliminates monthly bills or incremental charges emails and telephone calls with your attorney.

In conclusion, choosing an Estate Planning attorney with an Annual Client Care Program is an investment in the long-term success and adaptability of your Estate Plan. It reflects a commitment to a lasting partnership that goes beyond the typical attorney-client relationship.

To explore the full spectrum of advantages offered by The Lawler Group’s Legacy Membership Program, please do not hesitate to connect with us. If you have questions or require more information about this program, we welcome you to reach out.

To help you get the answers you need, we invite you to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with Mr. Scott Lawler through this link. Alternatively, you can direct your inquiries to Mr. Lawler at [email protected].

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