The best estate planning courses cover these 8 topics

While there are many courses available for retirement planning, it can be harder to find a comprehensive course focused on the concerns, issues, and needs of estate planning. This is a stage of your financial life that must move beyond foundational topics like investment advice and retirement income strategies. Quality estate planning courses will dig deep into the big picture of your legacy: probates, wills, trusts, taxation, annuities, and more.

Educate yourself to secure a prosperous future for your family.

Whether you’re planning ahead for many years in the future or preparing now to ensure a comfortable, hassle-free retirement, there are at least eight essential topics you’ll want to look for in the best estate planning courses.

Estate planning isn’t just about money, and it includes much more than planning for your death. There will be personal decisions that impact your family and loved ones even while you are still living. It’s important to educate yourself about the steps and options that will help you establish a legacy you and your family can be proud of with minimal stress.

The best estate planning courses should cover:

Planning for incapacity

Incapacity planning is important at all stages of life — injuries and illnesses can occur at any time. Medical concerns and health issues can also escalate as we age. Make the future more certain by taking precautionary measures and preparing the future of your estate for temporary or permanent incapacity. You’ll want a course that discusses health care proxies, advance directives, living wills, HIPAA authorization, durable power of attorney, and more.

Wills and intestacy (and why a will may not be enough)

Intestacy is the state of dying without a will. This puts the future of your estate out of your hands and should be avoided. However, without the right precautions, your will and final wishes can also lead to legal challenges, delays, and unwanted expenses. Look for estate planning courses that specifically cover strategies and techniques for minimizing these challenges and ensuring that your will works as intended.

The probate process

Most but not all wills go through a probate process, which is essentially a legal step to ensure that every aspect of the will is carried out in accordance with your instructions and wishes. However, this can also be a lengthy and complicated process at a time of grief for the family. Learn what it will take to make sure probate (if required) moves along smoothly. 

Gifting, inheritance, and direct transfer of assets

For many people, the objective of estate planning is to give as much as possible to family, friends, and charities, while giving as little as necessary to the government. The IRS and other legal bodies carefully regulate the gifting of large assets, both during our lives and after we pass. However, you may not be aware that it’s not necessary to wait until the moment of death to give or receive an inheritance (which may bypass probate and estate taxes). Study the difference and learn which options will be best for your assets.

Joint ownership of property

Property that is jointly owned between two people will generally pass into the ownership of the survivor in the event of the other person’s death. Estate planning courses should address the best way to hold joint ownership of property (or other assets) based on your individual situation.

Smart strategies for the taxation of estates

Recent proposed tax law changes have made estate planning a moving target. You’ll want to maximize your savings and learn what it takes to navigate the complex waters of evolving tax and retirement policies. Tax-smart solutions can keep more of your estate in the hands of your family and out of the hands of the government.

Comparing the types and benefits of trusts

There are many varieties of trusts, from revocable living trusts to testamentary trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, and more. Compare the advantages of each and learn if a trust, and what type, will help you realize the legacy you want for your estate.

Life insurance and income from annuities

Both life insurance and annuities can allow you to invest on a tax-deferred basis. However, whereas life insurance will provide a lump-sum fiscal payout directly to your loved ones after death, annuities are a safety net that delivers a continuous guaranteed income stream to policyholders until they die. Select estate planning courses that take time to go over the difference, which option will suit your personal estate best, and what to do with these income sources.

Find your course with the Financial Educators Network

Ready to get started? You can easily search for the best estate planning courses in your area (or online) with the Financial Educators Network and connect with expert instructors. All of our course instructors are licensed and certified financial practitioners who deliver comprehensive course content in an objective, sales-free format. In just a few course sessions, you can set your estate on the right track and develop a plan to reference at every step of the way. 

Find your course today!

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