Everyone has an estate, so even the simplest of estate plans identify who will receive your property and how your property will be distributed. During our initial meeting, we will get to know you so we can help you design a plan that meets your needs. Having an estate plan will give you peace of mind without the worries of what might happen if you were gone.
A will is a basic estate planning document that typically identifies who will receive a person’s estate. It often nominates those individuals who will perform specific roles and duties including the person who will act as the personal representative of the estate, the guardian for any minor children, and the trustee of any trust established under the will.
Many people establish a revocable living trust in order to avoid probate. A revocable living trust is established during a person’s lifetime and may hold some or all of a person’s assets. It also includes the recipients or beneficiaries of those who will receive the property being held in trust. A revocable living trust may also be used to protect a person’s privacy or help with incapacity.
A power of attorney is an instrument that authorizes another person to act as one's agent. Often a power of attorney will allow someone to handle the personal or financial affairs of another person.
Having an advance directive allows a person to appoint someone to act as their health care representative. With an advance directive, the health care representative is able to make health care decisions in the event the person is unable to make his or her own decisions.
Individuals that are unable to care for themselves may have a guardian appointed for them. Typically, a guardian is responsible for handling personal matters. If a person is unable to handle his or her estate, a conservator may be appointed.
Many estates may be subject to a court procedure known as probate unless steps have been taken to avoid it. Probate normally involves collecting a decedent's assets, paying debts, settling claims, clearing title to property, and distributing the decedent's property to his or her heirs. Probate can be costly and time-consuming but in many situations can be avoided with proper planning.
When a trust is established it is to be maintained in accordance with its governing instruments and law. When managing a trust, the trustee has specific duties that may include managing trust assets, keeping records and filing reports, and making distributions to beneficiaries. Failure to manage the trust in accordance with its governing instruments or law can result in serious consequences to the trustee.
Often a parent or family member may want to assist or help a child or other family member by making a gift for schooling, medical expenses, financial assistance, or support. In some cases, a person may want to make a gift to a charitable entity in support of a specific cause. The making of a gift may not only be beneficial to the recipient but it may also help minimize estate taxes.
We assist our clients in maintaining their estate plans and keeping them up-to- date. Sometime a client may believe that an effective estate plan consists of merely executing a will or trust agreement and then forgetting about it. Because things are always changing, it is important to review and update your estate plan to keep it working for you and your loved ones.