Protecting Your Legacy Through Estate Planning
Estate planning is the creation of a plan for managing, preserving and distributing your assets during your lifetime and after your death. A well-drafted and properly implemented estate plan:
- Ensures wealth is transferred only to the beneficiaries you choose
- Protects your family from the time, expense and publicity associated with judicial probate of your estate
- Avoids court-appointed guardians if you die while your children are still young, and
- Reduces or totally eliminates the burden of estate taxes after your death.
Estate plans can also contribute to family harmony and a smooth transition of your wealth to the next generation. We can customize your estate plan to make sure your assets pass when you want, how you want and to whom you want.
Our Standard Estate Plan Package
The typical estate plan includes:
- Preparation of a revocable living trust where you (and your spouse if applicable) as the settler(s);
- Appointing trustees (who are often the settlers too) to manage the trust;
- Designate the beneficiaries of your estate; and dictate the timing of distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries;
- The transfer of most if not all of your assets into the trust, as failing to do so will render the trust worthless;
- Prepare a “Pour-Over Will” transferring assets left outside your trust into the trust at your death
- Durable power of attorney appointing someone to handle your financial affairs in the event you are rendered mentally or physically unable to do so
- Advance health care directive instructing your family how you want your medical treatment handled in the event you become seriously ill or injured; and
- Miscellaneous transfer documents necessary to properly fund the trust, such as quitclaim deeds, beneficiary designation forms, marital property agreement, etc.
You can amend or revoke the trust at any time during your life. Depending on your financial and marital situation, the trust may split into one or more sub-trusts.
We can also assist you with your other estate planning needs including:
- Business succession planning
- Charitable giving
- Lifetime gifts
- Probate and trust administration
- Irrevocable life insurance trust
- Family limited partnerships
A Major Issue When Establishing A Trust
It is common for the people setting up the trust (trustees) to fail to transfer their assets into the trust, which often makes the trust worthless. It is estimated that a large percentage of people who have paid to create a revocable living trust, have not funded it with any assets. The result will be that the transfer of assets must be processed through a long and expensive probate proceeding unless an exemption applies.