Why Do We “Estate Plan”?

  • Avoid Probate which is court administration of a decedent’s estate.
    The probate process requires court supervision regarding the inventory of assets, payment of creditors and distribution of the assets in the estate. Some people choose to avoid probate because it typically takes a year or more to make distribution of the estate’s assets and, depending on the size of the estate, can result in significant legal costs.
  • Eliminate Estate Tax imposed by the federal government, which currently collects a 40% flat tax on all estates exceeding the $5 million (indexed for inflation) federal tax exemption.
  • Take advantage of other benefits of Trusts.
  • We can accomplish these objectives by preparing estate planning documents.

Estate Planning Documents

Documents Used During Your Lifetime

  • Advance Health Care Directives give you the opportunity to make your end-of-life decisions, including designating a family member or friend to make your final decisions and your specific wishes regarding course of treatment, pain medication, organ donation and autopsy.
  • In conjunction with the Advance Health Care Directive, a Health Authorization form, dealing with HIPPA’s privacy regulations, is prepared to allow your doctor to release your medical information to the agent you designate under your Advance Health Care Directive
  • A Durable Power of Attorney permits a family member or friend to sign documents and act on your behalf with regard to the specific powers you give. This document can be made effective immediately or upon your incapacity.

Documents Used After Your Death

  • Designation of Guardian allows you to designate the family member or friend you wish to care for your children if neither parent is able to care for your children.
  • Will – Do I need a Pour-over will or a Stand-alone will?
    • Pour-over wills are designed to transfer (“pour-over”) all of your assets to your living trust. The pour-over will articulates your wishes regarding burial or cremation and nominates an Executor to act on behalf of your estate in the event of a Probate.
    • Stand-alone wills are used when a living trust is not prepared. The stand-alone will directs how your estate should be distributed, your burial or cremation arrangements, and nominates an Executor to act on behalf of your estate in the Probate court.
  • Trust
    • A living trust is a document which creates a trust that will continue to function after your death. The trust nominates a Trustee (usually you) and a successor Trustee(s), who will act when you are no longer able. The Trustee is responsible for managing the assets of the trust and distributing the assets as you direct in the trust. In order for the trust to “come into being”, it must be funded with appropriate assets.

Click here to find out more about how to correctly fund your trust.