Tailor Made Estate Planning

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Most people tend to think of estate planning as they approach retirement, but attorney Kara Ransom of Parks & Jones, Attorneys at Law says that planning can and should begin as early as is feasible. “We call it the lifetime planning process,” says Ransom. “We can work with an individual or family at whatever stage they’re in, whether it’s a young family with children or someone wanting to start a new business or nonprofit, or people entering retirement who are looking ahead to long-term care costs.”

Starting the lifetime planning process before retirement brings a certain peace of mind, especially when it concerns long-term care. Parks & Jones offers a no cost 90-minute consultation in order to understand a prospective client’s family dynamics, financial situation and their goals. “So many times people know what they want to happen, but just don’t know the best way to go about making it happen.” says Ransom. This free consultation gives the client all the information they need to make an informed decision based on their situation.

“It’s essentially about customizing a plan to meet an individual’s specific goals and dreams and everything that is important to them. An estate plan is ultimately about making sure things happen the way the individual wants them to happen and tailoring the plan that will give them peace of mind, whatever that looks like to them.”

Some people do wait until they’ve reached retirement or even until they find themselves in a health crisis and in need of care. Ransom says not to worry because planning can still happen. “We’re able to meet anyone where they are, at whatever stage of life they’re in, and help them transition to the next.”

“If we have five years to plan, there’s a lot we can do to help protect someone’s assets in the event they need long-term care. Having that time to plan opens up options so we can really educate the person and help them accomplish what’s most important to them.” She says some people want to make sure they have certain protections and certain assets set aside if they do have to enter long-term care while others may be most concerned about avoiding probate or caring for a special needs beneficiary.

Ransom says that once the estate plan is set up, it will need to be maintained and updated as the individual enters different stages of life. “Planning needs to adjust with changing circumstances. We have the tools and structures in place to keep that relationship strong over time so as health needs change, life situations change and laws change, we can make sure that person’s plan is adjusting with them.”

“One of the biggest misconceptions is that once you have a plan in place, you can just put it on the shelf and you’re good,” says Ransom. She says often people will set up a plan when they have young children and then they don’t think about it again for 20 or 30 years. “So many things change over that period of time that the plan needs to be revisited frequently.” She uses the analogy of taking money to a financial planner once and then expecting them to invest your money once and never touch it again. “The same thing that would happen to that money is what would happen to an estate plan if it’s ignored. The relationship with your estate planner should be long term, just like the one with your financial planner.”