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  • Estate planning questionnaire explained from start to finish

Did you download our estate planning questionnaire in our last video and you still have questions? 

In our last video, I discussed how an estate planning questionnaire accomplishes two major goals. First an estate planning questionnaire is going to help you organize the business side of you and the second reason an estate planning questionnaire is so important is that it helps your estate planning attorney develop an estate plan customized to you and the business side of you and your family. Remember, we're all entrepreneurs of our own lives.

This estate planning questionnaire really is what tells us and really you if you're serious about your estate plan and estate planning. In our next video, I'm going to go page by page of our estate planning questionnaire. And I should stop for a moment and let you know that this is a questionnaire that I use every day in my practice after over 20 plus years of estate planning. And the reason it lets us know if you're serious about estate planning is because if you have downloaded it, then you realize it contains a lot of very personal questions. Let's jump right into the major sections of the estate planning questionnaire.

The first section of our estate planning questionnaire is all about you and your family. Are you single, married, divorced, widowed? How many children do you have? How many children does your spouse have? This is the first part that sometimes gets sticky especially if couples have not been, shall we say, totally honest with each other. If you are on a second or third marriage, then both spouses are most likely bringing kids into the marriage, a brady bunch, right? You can watch my video on estate planning for blended families up here . And I will put a link in the description below. But watch that video later.

While you all might be super happy, like the Brady Bunch, we need to know all about your children so that we can properly account for them in the estate plan and hopefully prevent future challenges to your estate plan. Believe me, we've seen it before when somebody is left out. Also, if a blended family is coming together late in life, in other words, the children are all already adults, then each spouse might only want to provide for their children, make sense, right? You've heard me say this a gazillion times if you've seen any of my videos, but do you want your kids to get your stuff or do you want your husbands new wives' children to get your stuff?

And the same applies the other way around and you might laugh, but believe me, this happens a lot and it's one thing that you really need to talk to your spouse about and make plans for. The second section of the estate planning questionnaire is all about your finances. This includes all of your investments, retirement accounts, bank accounts and real estate like your home or maybe your second home or maybe you bought a house for one of your children.

I am really surprised working on this section with my clients that many of them have never realized everything that they actually own. We all go through life accumulating stuff and that usually ends up in a crowded attic or in the garage outside, right? And I have found that people do the exact same thing with their finances, conceptually, most people, I think we all have an idea of what we have, a bank account here, a bond over there, a 401 from a job we had in the beginning of our career, maybe an insurance policy that we bought just to help out a friend starting out in the insurance business. It is really fun to see folks realize that they have done a pretty good job during their lifetime of accumulating assets and their wealth.

Let's start a little survey here. Comment below, yes or no, if you have ever sat down and written out everything that makes up your financial portfolio. I'd be really interested to know the answers. So comment below, yes or no.

The third section of our estate planning questionnaire has to do with, you and what you want to happen during your lifetime such as what happens during incapacity. This is the section that many people are surprised at how much time I like to spend on this particular section of the estate planning questionnaire. Estate planning is not just what happens after we pass. If estate planning is done correctly, then a massive part of it must be dedicated to incapacity planning. In this section, of the estate planning questionnaire, we discuss who you want to take care of you, even if it is just for a short period of time.

Do you want to stay at home as long as possible or do you immediately want to be moved into some sort of extended care option? This is your decision with the current pandemic, there is the real chance someone, anyone could become incapacitated for a short period of time while they fight and recover from this horrible virus. It is not just a pandemic that we need to think about. You could get injured in a car wreck or even just slipping on the sidewalk and hitting your head.

These things happen, that's why they're called accidents. Whether these events are short term or long term, we need to have a plan in place. You, you need to have a plan in place.

The fourth section of our estate planning questionnaire has to do with what happens to your stuff, right. So the previous sections we've talked about what it is, now we need to know what to do with it. In this part, you need to decide who gets what, when they get it and how much they get. By the time we get to this part of the estate planning questionnaire, we generally have a pretty good idea about the family situation.

I have had people sit down in our conference room and the very first thing they say is, this is gonna be easy because I want everything to go to my two kids. So just give me an estate plan that does that. However, by the time we get to this section, we've discussed who is going to take care of them and we usually discover which child is good with money and which will burn through cash in months. That statement that the estate plan is going to be easy, suddenly becomes, well, much more complicated.

I could give you tons of examples and I have actually written checks to heirs for hundreds of thousands of dollars in like two months later, they come back into my office, broke and asking, is there any more money left in the estate? It happens all the time. It sounds crazy, but it does not matter what the dollar amount is, 10,000, a hundred thousand or even a million dollars. In this section of the estate planning questionnaire, we discussed different ways to distribute assets to heirs whether it's all at once in a lump sum or in phases over the years.

The great thing is that this is all up to you on how your estate plan is structured and customized. If you missed our first video on estate planning questionnaire, please go back and watch it and click on the link below to get a copy of the estate planning questionnaire we have been discussing and that I use every single day. Check out these videos up here and up here to up your estate planning game. And if you liked this video, please hit the like button, the one with the thumbs up and be sure to smash that subscribe button. Share this with your friends if you really enjoyed it, I would really appreciate it. Have a great day and as always have an awesome week. We'll see you next time. Thanks for watching.

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About the author 

Cortes Law Firm

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