Whether you are planning to keep your assets in your family bloodline; trying to make sure your IRA won’t be lost to a lawsuit once it goes to loved ones; or whether you are trying to manage the smooth disposition of assets in a second marriage where there are competing concerns, it is critical that you put in place legal papers and planning so it will all work as you want it to work.

Without careful advance planning, proper titling of assets and proper coordinated beneficiary designation on life insurance annuities and retirement accounts, things might not go smoothly. Unnecessary taxes might have to be paid. Family disputes can erupt.

Ultimately, the value of your peace of mind in an estate plan is derived from having taken the time to understand exactly how it will work.

If you understand how it will work, then you can get the peace of mind you want so you can sleep well at night, knowing you have made sure things will go smoothly.

This is the reason why we structure representations as a series of meetings.

Typically, the first meeting is free and provides a basis to determine what will be done, why it will be done and what it will cost.

Once this is established, then the second meeting is when the legal papers are reviewed in person. This allows the counselor to show the client how the paper will work, the operative language, and options.

With estate planning, the understanding is necessarily contextual. In other words, concepts and things are best understood with a context. That is why we meet in person to review the papers so we can provide contextual understanding.

Then, we typically will schedule a telephone conference to address any concerns or changes.

Then, at the next meeting, we will usually get all the papers signed.

A bloodline trust is one where you guarantee the assets will stay in the family. An IRA trust will receive IRA assets. It needs to be drawn carefully so as to preserve income tax deferral.

Second marriages create a cauldron of possibility. If things are not carefully planned for, then unintended consequences are bound to emerge.

Trusts and agreements not to alter are valuable tools to clearly spell out beneficial interests and the flow of property over time. A little bit of planning can make a big difference.

Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate and elder law planning attorney.