FA-IQ reached out to advisors to ask: What are your clients’ top concerns when it comes to estate planning, and what are the challenges or hurdles they need to overcome to make sure everything is in order?

Gerald Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of GYL Financial Synergies. West Hartford, Connecticut-based Goldberg has been in the industry for 26 years and has about $9 billion in client assets.

“Most clients want to protect children and pass on assets in a tax-efficient manner. Everyone needs an estate plan, not just the wealthy. If they don’t direct how their assets should be divided, those decisions will be made in accordance with applicable state law.

Gerald Goldberg
They may not understand how assets are distributed and what is or is not included as part of their estate. Estate planning is not one-size-fits-all and should be designed for the client's and their beneficiaries’ needs and circumstances.

The clients should work with an estate planning attorney and their financial advisor for guidance. Gifts during their lifetime and setting up trusts may be appropriate, but they need to be properly administered.

I would keep in mind the following estate planning considerations:

  1. Work with an attorney that is knowledgeable about estate planning and, especially, the new estate tax laws. Best practice occurs when the wealth advisor, trust and estate attorney and accountant collaborate in developing a plan for the client.
  2. Having up-to-date estate documents including trusts, life insurance, retirement plans, medical and long-term care policy documents.
  3. Make sure that your documents are current for the state in which you reside. Laws vary from state to state, and documents drawn up in another state may or may not accomplish what you want them to if your state of residence has changed.
  4. Make sure planning takes place if you are the beneficiary of someone else’s estate."

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