We just had a son, which was rather surprising, and now I'd like to be to plan for his future. Which of these do I need to do to make sure he's okay if we die?
Estate Planning Attorney
You really should do both of these things.
Think of financial planning as what you will do in order to build assets that can be used to finance your son's care. Investments, insurance proceeds, etc. If something happens to you there's still going to be a lot of bills to pay.
Estate planning is how you describe how the assets can be used. If your son is a minor when you die, who will manage the trust that holds the aforementioned assets? What can the funds be used for? When will the trust finally distribute all of the assets? Who will actually take custody of your son? Those are all estate planning questions.
You really ought to have two separate people doing this things. Financial planners work in financial planning, lawyers work in estate planning. Ask some friends and relatives who they use and interview a few people before you decide who you want to work with.
The foregoing is commentary regarding a general legal question. It is not intended to be legal advice specific to the reader's individual situation nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between the author and any reader. You are encouraged to contact a qualified attorney to discuss your legal situation.
Estate Planning Attorney
No they are not the same thing. To plan for your child's future if you die you will need an estate planner.
Financial planning is usually handled by a financial advisor and is focused on the accumulation of wealth for retirement.
Estate Planning is focused on the protection of wealth. This includes the process of planning for where your money goes when you become disabled or pass away. A proper estate plan involves strategies to make the monies last for your children and possibly their children's lives. One of the most overlooked aspect of estate planning is the disability component. Not only must you prepare for your son in the if you pass away but it is also to think how both you and your son will be cared for if you become disabled. That is estate planning.
The best estate planners have strong relationships with financial representatives and can recommend some quality advisors to help you. My preference is to work with advisors who have a CFP designation. CFP's tend to merge well with the theories discussed in proper estate planning rather than speculative investment returns discussed by some other advisors.
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I once said, in the presence of my father, that my baby sister (21 years younger) was an "Oops Baby" to which he replied "What the heck do you think you were?" Or words to that effect.
Congratulations on the baby boy!
By the way, death is not the only thing for which to plan. Incapacity or disability is 6 times more likely in any given year, so a plan is not very good if it does not provide instructions and authority for your baby's care in the event of your disability.
My colleagues have provided good answers to your query, to which I would add only one thing: Find a lawyer who works hand-in-hand with financial planners. It is my firm belief that lawyers cannot do proper estate planning without coordinating with the financial advisor, and in some instances also the CPA. And it is our policy that we do not wish to work with clients who do not have, or are unwilling to engage, a quality financial advisor. Most lawyers and financial advisors work separately, perhaps making referrals, but not working collaboratively for the benefit of their mutual client.
I have a couple colleagues in the Akron-Canton area who practice in this manner, and to whom I would be pleased to refer you.
Most people will thing of estate planning as a legal item, however, a beet view is this:
Estate planning is composed of both legal and financial planning. You can do one without the other, but the combination is the most effective way to go. Of the two, the legal planning (Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trust or Will, etc) is the more immediate need since incapacity or death can occur at any time.
All professionals involved, attorney, financial advisos, accountant, etc., must be able to work well together in a cooperative venture on behalf of the client.
Financial planning typically addresses issues such investments, retirement savings plans, and college savings plans. A financial advisor could assist you in those areas to ensure that your son’s education needs are met.
Estate planning addresses issues such as the preparation of wills, trusts, guardian appointments, transfer on death accounts and the like. A probate attorney would be who you would want to contact to assist you in preparing the estate planning documents needed for ensuring that your son is protected in the event of your death.
Estate planning is especially important while your son is a minor. A will naming a guardian for your son in the event of your death would ensure that your son is cared for by a person of your choosing. Additionally, a will would ensure that any assets of your estate would be dispersed to your son. If your son is a minor at the time of your death, a trust could be set up for your son in order to provide for your son’s financial needs until he reaches the age of majority.
Lori A. Strobl
Strobl & Associates Co., LPA
1015 E. Centerville Station Rd.
Centerville, OH 45459
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