Estate Planning By the Numbers

By the numbersWhen you break it all down, planning your estate is easy than you might think

People tend to put off estate planning. As a result, they risk dying without leaving their financial affairs in order and handing their heirs a host of potentially significant problems.

Here is a checklist to make the process of planning your estate easy:

  1. Create a will if you don’t have one. A 2015 survey found that 54% of Americans ages 55 to 64 and about 70% of Americans ages 45 to 54 don’t have a will in place. A legally valid will could save your heirs from expensive problems with probate.
  2. Add related documents. Depending on your estate planning needs, you may need a trust, durable financial power of attorney and medical powers of attorney, as well as a living will.
  3. Review beneficiary designations. Check your documents and verify the designated beneficiaries. These take priority over the provisions of wills when it comes to retirement accounts, life insurance, and other non-probate assets.
  4. Make a list of assets and debts. Give your heirs an estate planning organizer so that they can reference it if you pass away. List your real property and personal property assets, as well as real estate you own and its value. Also list personal property items that have a monetary worth. You can also list your bank and brokerage accounts, retirement accounts, other investments and insurance policies. Finally, make a list of your credit card debts, mortgage, home equity line of credit, and any consumer loans.
  5. Consider making gifts to reduce the size of your taxable estate. The lifetime individual federal gift, estate, and generation-skipping tax exclusion amount is unified and is set at $5.45 million for this year. So a married couple can transfer up to $10.9 million tax-free.
  6. Reduce, communicate and make wise decisions. Consolidate your IRAs and bank accounts to shorten your list, eliminate statements, reduce paperwork and avoid fees. Tell your heirs which causes and charities you value and select a reliable executor.
  7. Work with an estate planning attorney. Do-it-yourself estate planning is not recommended because there are numerous financial, legal and emotional issues and pitfalls to avoid.

If you own a business, have a blended family, have a child with special needs, are concerned about dementia or want to pave a smooth road for the loved ones left behind, use this checklist and then give us a call @ 757.259.0707 or better yet simply request a consultation to schedule your complimentary meeting today.

Reference: The Business Times (Sept. 20, 2016) “Use this checklist to get started on your estate planning”


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.