Estate planning is the process of getting your affairs in order so that you make things easier for your surviving family members when life ends. Not only that, it puts you in charge of your finances and you control the outcome of many years of your hard work and savings. We encourage individuals to put plans for the future in place now.
A well designed estate plan will not only benefit your family when you are gone, but it can also be an important part of your business and investment planning as well. We can help you minimize taxes, maximize returns and protect yourself and your assets. An estate plan should at least include a will, a general durable power of attorney for finances, and a health care advocate power of attorney. We tailor the plan to fit your needs, goals, and concerns.
No matter what the size of your estate is, everyone can benefit from estate planning. For example, planning for disability by having someone designated to make your healthcare decisions and manage your personal property is very important. Having a trusted individual with authority to manage your health care and finances, if necessary, reduces stress and burden on you and your family.
Following are situations where an estate plan would be very helpful.
- You’re in a second (or later) marriage
- Become disabled due to a stroke, car accident etc.
- You own one or more businesses
- You have a pet to plan for who cares for them and expense if you are unable
- You own real estate in more than one state
- You want to leave some or all of your estate to charity
- You have special needs children
- You have substantial assets in 401(k)s and/or IRAs
- You have minor children or no children
- You were recently divorced
- You recently lost a spouse or other family member
If any of the questions below relate to you, then an estate plan would be necessary.
- Upon death, who receives your assets?
- Who will make health care decisions for you if disabled?
- Do you want to include your wishes if you are on life support?
- Preserve your assets for your beneficiaries?
An estate plan gives you control over how your assets will be distributed upon death. If you die without planning, a judge will make these decisions following state laws and your estate will go to the state if your heirs are not found within a certain time period. If you want your property to go to certain persons it is necessary to put together an estate plan.
State laws govern property a person leaves behind when they die. These laws are quite technical, which makes it necessary to hire an estate planning lawyer. Wills, Trusts, and medical or financial powers of attorney have very specific state laws about what can be in them. There are laws about who the personal representative, trustee, health care surrogate or attorney in fact may be, as well as the witnesses and what formalities there are when signing these documents.
Estate planning documents found on the internet come with the caveat ‘buyers beware”. Your family may find out after the fact that the will, trusts and powers of attorney are not legally valid. Your family will go through substantial inconvenience and expense and your wishes may not be carried out.
Our Probate and Trust Planning services include:
- Living Trusts and Wills
- Probate/Trust Administration
- Powers of Attorney
There are 5 major reasons why people of varying means should establish an estate plan:
- Privacy for self and family
- Substantial cost savings
- Quick and easy transition to loved ones
- Flexibility and the ability to make changes
- Clarification of wishes for end-of-life medical decisions