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The need for broad and integrative thinking about estate planning

So, you think you've got a good handle on estate planning because of your demonstrated acumen in the realm of financial management.

That might be so, but it is more likely that a narrow focus on how money management and asset flow will look in retirement seriously compromises the more comprehensive thinking that needs to take place to ensure a tailored and seamless estate plan across all relevant dimensions.

"Just because you are doing good retirement planning doesn't mean you are doing good estate planning," says one estate planning expert.

Here's why, according to another commentator offering views in a recent media article addressing inadequately considered estate plans: Effective planning encompasses more than mere money matters. It is, rather, "intertwined with the financial plan" across a broad universe of what often comprises other equally important considerations.

There is, flatly, a lot for most individuals and families to think about when thoughts turn to the future. Money does matter, of course, but so too do health-related concerns that will unquestionably arise with aging loved ones.

Those can -- and centrally should -- be considered and explicitly addressed in an estate plan. Doing so "is a gift" to other family members," notes one wealth adviser. A well-considered and executed medical health care directive and power of attorney designation can provide planners and their families with both peace and needed confidence regarding future events.

So, too, can a timely and open discussion of all relevant family-related matters, which can range widely from individual bequests and family-owned business considerations to insurance beneficiaries and tax implications.

"Have those conversations," says one wealth and philanthropic planning director.

And remember: Sound estate planning is far more than about mere financial management aimed at securing a comfortable retirement. There can be a host of other important things to think about, too, and they are often closely interrelated.

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