Estate Planning is a process that allows you to plan for your lifetime goals and objectives and to provide for the transmittal of assets at your death. Having a solid estate plan ensures that your property and wealth will pass smoothly to your beneficiaries at the time of death and according to your wishes. Estate Planning includes the transfer of property at death along with an assortment of other personal matters that may or may not include tax planning.
Estate planning consists of several parts, including: a will, power of attorney, a living will or healthcare proxy, and sometimes a trust. Because estate planning is strongly effected by frequently complex federal and state laws, it is important to consult a lawyer knowledgeable in estate and trust laws for creative solutions and suggestions. Feel free to contact us for a consultation.
Probate vs. Non-Probate
Types of non-probate property
- What is joint with right of survivorship?
- What are POD accounts?
- What about annuities and retirement benefits?
- What can you tell me about life insurance?
- How can trusts be useful?
- What is a Will?
- What happens if I die without a Will?
- I can create a will by myself online; why should I pay an attorney? What does a will not do?
- What are revocable living trusts? What do they do?
- Does a revocable trust become irrevocable upon death?
- What are irrevocable life insurance trusts?
- What are special needs trusts?
- What are charitable remainder trusts?
- What are charitable leads trusts?
- What are pet trusts?
- Should I leave my retirement benefits in a trust?
- What are the basics?
- Who appoints the Personal Representative?
- What do I need to know about marshaling assets and paying the representative?
- What happens to my tax obligations?
- What assets are subject to estate and income taxes, and when do I pay estate tax?
- What if I am interested in charitable giving?
- How do beneficiary designations fit in my estate plan?
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney can be limited (restricted to certain tasks or transactions) or general (broad, allowing the Agent to do anything in your best interest). A Durable Power of Attorney allows your Agent to act for you if you become incapacitated. A Power of Attorney is often preferable to adding joint owners to accounts for the convenience of the owner, as to avoid later disputes on ownership. The Agent should be carefully chosen, as the powers are broad.
Each state allows an individual to express his/her wishes of treatment in certain medical situations—life-threatening or other injuries—and to appoint a health care agent to speak on his/her behalf if he/she is unable. These documents are referred to as “health care directives”, “living wills” or “health care proxies”, varying state to state. Living Wills are declarations that provide for the avoidance of extraordinary measures if you are in a permanent vegetative state, end-stage condition or terminal condition. Health care decisions may be delegated to an Agent who may make those medical decisions in accordance with a “best interest” standard. Some things you may want to consider when choosing your healthcare agent: Can he/she understand important medical information in regards to your treatment? Can he/she handle the stress of making difficult decisions? Can he/she keep your interests and wishes in mind while making those decisions?