About this Course

If you are a professional involved in any industry that requires an understanding of basic estate planning principles and familiarity with estate planning documents and legal structures, then this course is for you. Accountants, financial planners, caregivers, health care workers, real estate agents and many others can all benefit from this 8-week course. We will focus on the tools, techniques and frameworks needed to counsel clients on estate planning issues and help them to identify what they need and why they need it.

At the end of the course you will have the tools needed to walk your clients through the estate planning process and help them to understand how these legal documents work together to create a comprehensive estate plan. 

By taking this class you will be a more valuable and more trusted advisor, able to help your clients have the conversations they need to have and put their estate plan in place.

Course Format:

  • Online with lots of interaction with Liza Hanks
  • Video, reading, templates, exercises and discussion
  • Optional one-hour live office hours every week
  • Eight weeks of intensive work
  • One year access to all of the materials

Your Instructor

Creator of Women & Wills

Liza Hanks

I’m a graduate of Stanford Law School. I have has been an estate planner since 2001. I’m a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust Administration & Probate Law, The State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization. So, yeah, I have the credentials. But honestly, too many lawyers think it’s about their expertise. What I’m interested in is your expertise. My favorite part of the job is teaching people to understand and use legal documents effectively — so I created the Women & Wills courses and podcast.

Course Outline

Module 1: What Are the Components to an Estate Plan?

In this first module, we’ll start by understanding what happens to a person’s property after they die and why estate planning can make that process easier and, often, less expensive. We’ll discuss how the probate process works and why, in many states, avoiding it by using a revocable living trust is a good idea. After that, we will review the basic documents that comprise an estate plan: Wills, Revocable Living Trusts, Durable Powers of Attorney for Finance, and Advance Health Care Directives. You’ll learn what purpose each document serves, when it is used, what kind of skills a person will need to have to use that document, and why each is an important component of a comprehensive estate plan.

Module 2: Creating a Personal Inventory

In the second module, we will focus on gathering the information a client will need to put their plan together and keep their families informed of the information that they’ll need after a person dies. Working in an organized, piece-by-piece manner, you’ll put together your own personal inventory that lists your real property, your investment accounts, your insurance information, your retirement plans, government benefits, pensions, credit cards, vehicles, memberships, and passwords as a way to learn how to advise your clients on creating the same kind of personal inventory. We will also review the basic concepts of property law: community and separate property concepts as well as forms of property ownership in non-community property states.

Module 3: Naming Fiduciaries

In the third module, we’ll focus on how to choose people for the jobs that an estate plan requires: Executors, Trustees, Agents for Finance, Agents for Health Care, and Guardians for minor children. You’ll learn what each job entails, and what skills it requires, so that you can assist clients struggling to put together their own ‘dream team’ of fiduciaries. We’ll also discuss using professional licensed fiduciaries, banks, and trust companies for people who don’t have children or close relatives or friends to call on.

Module 4: Planning for Minor Children

In Module four, we’ll focus on the issues that arise when clients are planning for minor children. First, there is choosing a guardian, which is often difficult for young parents, but clients will also need to consider the best way to manage assets for children. In this module, we’ll talk about custodial accounts for minors, guardianship of the estate for minors, creating trusts for minors that end at a certain age, creating trusts for minors that reward certain milestones, and creating trusts for minors that last a lifetime.

Module 5: Death and Taxes: Estate, Gift, Income and Capital Gains Taxes

Module five is all about taxes and how to make an estate plan that is smart about them. We’ll discuss many kinds of taxes: estate taxes, gift taxes, income taxes (as they relate to estate planning) and capital gains taxes (as they relate to inheriting assets). My goal here is to clarify which of these taxes are likely to matter to your clients, and best practices to minimize taxes by making good decisions, now.

Module 6: Planning for Blended or Non-Traditional Families

If I’ve learned anything in the last 20 years, it is this: no two families are alike. If your clients have a family that includes children from prior marriages, if they are raising a grandchild, or if they are in a non-traditional relationship, your clients have estate planning puzzles to solve that are unique. We’ll discuss planning structures to minimize friction, clarify commitments, and protect spouses and partners.

Module 7: Naming Beneficiaries: Life Insurance and Retirement Plans

For many people, their biggest assets are held in retirement plans (IRA’s, 401k’s, or 403b plans) or life insurance policies. These assets pass exclusively by beneficiary designations, so understanding how they coordinate with a Will or Trust (or don’t) is a key part of effective estate planning. You’ll learn how new law impacts the ability of plan beneficiaries to withdraw retirement plans slowly, how such withdrawals will be taxed, and how your clients can use such plans to benefit charities.

Module 8: Planning for Incapacity: Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives

In Module 8 we’ll take a deep dive into planning for incapacity, not death. Everyone needs to have documents in place that permit trusted people to do things for us if we can’t do them ourselves, either in the short-term (if we get sick or hurt) or in the long-term (if we, for example, get dementia). You’ll learn how the details of how these two documents work, when your clients will need to use them, how to make sure the right people have them at the right time, and how to protect your clients from elder abuse. We’ll also take a deep dive into end -of-life wishes so that you can be sure that your clients can communicate with their loved ones so that they know how to make the difficult decision to terminate life support.

Here are the documents we will create together:

  • Personal Inventory - you can use this to gather all of your important financial information in one place.

  • Fiduciary Worksheet - to record your choices for trustee, executor, agents and guardians.

  • Current Beneficiaries List - to keep track of your beneficiaries for life insurance, retirement assets and other beneficiary designated accounts.

  • Guardianship Letter & List - outlining your priorities and concerns for any future guardians and a list of those you're considering choosing.

  • Wills and Trusts worksheet - an outline of the structure of your estate plan.

Have questions?

If you want to talk to a real human being about this course, call 800-685-7331 or submit your email below and we will reach out to you.

Frequently asked questions

  • How does this course work?

    Liza Hanks will be your mentor, teacher, and guide for nine weeks. Videos, readings, and exercises are pre-recorded - you can work through them on your own time, at your own pace. Liza will answer questions on the discussion boards every day, and once a week she will host a live, optional, office hours on Zoom . That's where you can chat and build relationships more informally.

  • What if I can't make the live parts of the class?

    That's OK. Office hours are completely optional. We expect you'll make it when you can, but it's not a required part of the class.

  • Can I get a certificate of completion?

    Yes, we'll offer a learning check at the end of the presentation so you can get a certificate of completion.

  • Does this course replace the need for an estate planning attorney?

    No, but it will take you 90% of the way there. The course will empower you to work with an estate planning attorney more confidently.

  • Does the course happen on specific dates?

    No. The course launches in March 2022 and our first cohort will work at the same pace, but you can sign up at any time. You can begin when you are ready and finish when you complete all of the assignments.

  • Will Liza do my estate planning for me?

    No - the whole point of the class is to empower you to do this work for yourself and your clients. Liza isn't taking you on as a client - you are her student and collaborator.

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