Tuesday, May 23rd

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A simple will is no longer enough documentation for effective estate planning. In today’s more complex world of second, third and even fourth marriages with differing beneficiaries, just drafting and executing a will most likely isn’t enough to protect the loved ones left behind from difficulties in settling an estate.

“Simple wills just pointing to his and hers – the old sweetheart wills – just won’t cut it anymore for protecting her children or his children when death occurs in subsequent marriages,” Marcus Seiter, owner of Seiter Law, PLLC, based in Tempe, Ariz., explains. “In those situations, a trust is almost a given, because one really needs to have a trust that is the legal means to make sure the provisions wanted to either protect your spouse or to protect what you want left to beneficiaries such as children from previous marriages or relationships, is indeed what occurs upon one’s death and the settling of one’s estate.”

It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t – at least not for estate planning professionals. Their work entails helping clients get down to the nitty gritty of what they want to have done upon death.
As Seiter said, the tools of estate planning – wills, trusts, powers of attorney and medical directives – exist to ensure that final wishes are carried out without delay or additional burden on family members left behind.

Yet nearly half of all Americans don’t take the time to put these documents together, a trend Seiter works diligently to reverse.

“The hesitancy to establish estate documents may be linked to the cost,” Seiter said. But he thinks the lack of estate planning really boils down to one human idiosyncrasy: “We don’t like to think about our own demise.”

“It is probably a combination of not wanting to talk about what happens when they die,” Seiter said. “It is a tough conversation to have because it requires thinking about what will happen to their loved ones – and those are often difficult questions to answer. Sometimes, I think we want to just live in the here and now and not have to think about it.”

For clients who are determined to think about it and then take action, Seiter’s firm offers its expertise in ensuring that no issues are left unaddressed.

Each new client first receives an overview of Seiter’s estate planning process. The next step is filling out a questionnaire with a plethora of personal questions targeting those sensitive topics common to estate planning, including identifying the client’s values and finding the best ways to preserve those after death.

Half the fee is paid up front, and then Seiter gets to work drafting the appropriate documents. Depending on complexity, that process takes one to two weeks.

Documents are exchanged back and forth either electronically or physically as the client begins the approval process. Once all is agreed upon, another appointment to sign documents and make final payment is arranged.

Here is where the safety of estate planning is emphasized: Seiter provides clients with one packet of complete documents that he encourages them to keep in a safe. The second copy is in a bound notebook serving as a resource center for clients to add new, pertinent information as well as to provide anyone who may be acting on behalf of the client with a complete record of the client’s estate planning documents, summary of assets, and wishes.

“This is of paramount importance,” Seiter said. “I encourage clients to make sure that anyone who may handle their affairs knows where that notebook is.  It makes everything  so much easier when those left behind can grab the notebook and say, ‘Here are their documents; here is what they wanted done.’”

Learn more about Seiter Law, PLLC, online at www.seiterlawpllc.com


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