The Ultimate Guide To Estate Planning With Bethany Canfield

Check out Jeremy’s latest podcast on simple and tax-efficient estate planning strategies by listening on “Apple Podcasts” or “Google Podcasts” or read below for 4 Must-Knows of Estate Planning.

#54 – What happens when you or your spouse unexpectedly pass away?

No one likes this question. But it’s an extremely important one to think about.

Why? To protect your family and ease their financial burden, plus make your inheritance as easy and tax-efficient as possible!

As part of our ongoing mini-series on legacy planning, we’ll discuss strategies to help you prepare an optimal estate plan in this episode.

Jeremy Keil speaks with Bethany Canfield, partner at Kitzke & Canfield, LLC and an experienced attorney for estate matters. They discuss what an ideal estate plan looks like, various documents involved in estate planning, and the different types of trusts you can leverage.

Bethany discusses:

  • Tips to avoid probate or intestacy (which can negatively impact your wealth transfer)
  • An easy-to-follow walkthrough of marital property agreements and their advantages
  • Reasons to arrange beneficiary designations through trusts instead of a direct transfer
  • What information you should update regularly within your estate plan
  • How to avoid financial conflicts among your future generations
  • And more

The 4 Must-Knows of Estate Planning

  1. Know the Goals of Estate Planning

There are primarily two goals of estate planning:

  1. Protecting your spouse and children if and when you unexpectedly pass away.
  2. Making your inheritance as easy and tax-efficient as possible.

Having these goals in mind will encourage you to prepare an estate plan well ahead of time.

In addition to these primary objectives, you can also have your own unique goals. For instance, you might want to make charitable contributions to your favorite nonprofits through your inheritance.

  1. Know the Documents

The key documents that are the cornerstone of every estate plan are powers of attorney for health and finance, backup wills, and revocable living trusts.

The powers of attorney help you ensure that when you’re unable to make key decisions around your finances or medical emergencies, someone you trust gets the decision-making authority.

Backup wills are important end-of-life documents that enable you to name guardians for minor children, and get rid of any old wills that you may have created in the past. It’s always good to have a backup will as it supports your trust and makes sure that your wishes are ultimately fulfilled.

Finally, if you wish to avoid a costly and time-intensive probate process, you should include revocable living trusts in your estate plan. These trusts are administered by the people you choose (your trustees) instead of a court.

  1. Know What to Review/Update

How often are you updating your estate plan?

According to Bethany Canfield, you should review your estate plan every time there is a birth, death, marriage, or a divorce. Even if you don’t face any of these, you should still review them every five years.

Why? Because estate laws keep changing and it’s important to regularly review your estate plan to remain relevant.

Reviewing estate plans doesn’t always require you to sit down with your attorney, pay them money, and go through every detail.

It can be something as simple as making sure that the right people are in the right positions.

Imagine that you named your brother-in-law as your successor. However, after a few years, your sister and your brother-in-law got divorced. In this case, you would want to change your successor to someone else, wouldn’t you?

Some of the common positions you must review include your beneficiaries, trustees, personal representatives, and your powers of attorney.

  1. Know the Costs

During a probate in the state of Wisconsin, the average fees are nearly 3-5% of your total estate value. (So, if you have an estate of $200,000, then the fees could equal $6,,000 to $10,000.)

However, planning your estate well ahead of time can save you money. In a similar estate of $200,000, the fees to create a proper estate plan might be $2,000 to $4,000.

The difference between the two might seem small to you in this example. But consider estates worth several million dollars. It makes a huge difference!

In addition to being cost-effective, timely estate planning also ensures that more options are available to you. The earlier you start, the better.

Note that these costs are merely estimates. Different attorneys may charge differently. Some might quote a flat fee, while others might charge hourly.


Don’t forget to check out the resources below during your estate planning process.

Have any questions? Feel free to reach out to us or our guest Bethany Canfield using the contact information provided below!


Connect With Bethany Canfield:

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About Our Guest:

Bethany attended the Marquette University Law School and focused her coursework in estate planning and tax law, when she recognized the crucial need for families to protect themselves and their businesses from the unexpected. She has interned for the Chief Judge of the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, been an officer of the Public Interest Law Society, worked with the American Civil Liberties Union, and volunteered for Legal Action Wisconsin and the Wills for Heroes program. Bethany brings efficiency, reliability, and an easy to understand approach to the practice. She understands that clients are trusting her with the responsibility to guard everything they have built and she does not take that honor lightly.


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