3 minute read

Steps to Take Before Starting an Estate Plan: According to a CFP

Wondering what steps to take before starting your Estate Plan? Certified Financial Planner, Rianka Dorsainvil has everything you need to know.

Rianka Dorsainvil

Rianka Dorsainvil, @Rianka_D

CFP® & Co-Founder, 2050 Wealth Partners


We all know that strong communication is the basic foundation to any relationship, key to explaining your insights and goals to another person, and understanding theirs in return.

So, it’s no surprise that the same principles apply to discussing your Estate Plan. It is critical to outline your goals, wishes and strategies with individuals who stand to be included in the process.

When talking about your life and taking care of those you love, everyone wants to make the right decision, but there are many factors to consider.

Luckily, Trust & Will’s has a free downloadable framework to start this conversation. This template walks you through various discussion points to align your vision with the documents that will make it a reality.

For instance, do you need a Will, or a Trust? If you’re just starting from scratch, don’t worry. All you need is a pen and paper, and a little bit of time.

Are you single and just starting to accumulate wealth? Focus on education.

Legalese trips many of us up, but we believe knowledge is power. So, don’t worry if you stumble over a definition, we’ve included a handy guide at the bottom of the document. And, since you’re just getting started, now is as good of time as any to brush up on the lingo.

For example, a Trust is a written arrangement containing the terms upon which property is held and managed for the benefit of the persons named therein, and a Will is a written document detailing the terms on how a person’s estate should be managed and distributed after his or her death. 

There are little over a dozen of the most common terms in plain English at the bottom of your guide. There’s no quiz at the end - no one expects you to be an expert, just informed!

If you’re married with children, understand all of the people and preparatory questions you’ll need to answer.

Just like in our daily life, there are many individuals who we’ll need to enlist to help us when we’re gone. Our guide suggests having introductory conversations with your spouse, family and friends who may be tapped for critical duties like guardianship, executorship or power of attorney, among others. 

You’ll be prompted to think about questions like who you would like to provide financial support to, other than you children, and at what age the money should be distributed to them (if applicable). There will be others too, like what kind of ceremony would you like to celebrate your life, or what your health directives are.

This is also a fantastic time to track the financial institutions you have accounts with (account numbers aren’t necessary), and the addresses of the real estate property that you own.

While it may seem like a lot of questions to answer, we know the way to achieve anything is to take it step by step. And, writing things down on paper helps tremendously.

But, what if a life event has changed everything? Don’t worry.

Perhaps one of the most startling things about making an Estate Plan is the misconception that you cannot change your mind. This could not be farther from the truth. In fact, experts recommend that Estate Plans be revisited every three-to-five years, and that’s simply because life is constantly changing. 

Our current relationships may have shifted dramatically being widowed, divorced or separated from previously-close friends, or priorities may not be aligned elsewhere. Children could no longer need a guardian if they’ve since reached adulthood, or you could have recently welcomed new family members (like I did)! Perhaps you may have fallen in love with a particular cause and want to bestow resources on an organization. 

Life changes, these documents move with you, not against. Read Trust & Will’s Guide on How to Amend or Update your Will.

Ready? Set. Go!

I believe that financial planning and knowledge should not be held hostage from anyone who needs it, and I love how Trust & Will has done the same with these critical planning documents. And  because life is busy, they’ve even given users 12 months to make unlimited revisions to Estate Documents. 

Have additional questions? Trust & Will's Learn Center is a great resource for helpful tips and guides will certainly be illuminating. 

We’re ready to go!


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