Reasons for Estate Planning
People engage in estate planning to establish a comprehensive plan to cover what happens to their money and property in the event of disability or death or divorce. Each estate plan is custom tailored to your personal situation. A typical estate plan will:
1. be changeable (revocable);
2. will avoid probate;
3. will keep your affairs private;
4. will have a definite plan as to who receives your money and property on your passing; and
5. will be set up to save estate and gift taxes and property taxes.
Typical Estate Planning areas covered
We custom prepare the various documents needed to suit your individual family situation. The following matters are covered by the documents:
1. Your executor and trustee of your affairs will be selected.
2. Successor trustees and executors are determined.
3. How will the money and properties in the estate/trust be controlled.
4. A plan for distribution of your money and property is established.
5. Will money and property be held for a period of time in trust or simply distributed upon death?
6. Define carefully who will inherit-define “children”.
7. Consideration of how to benefit your surviving spouse and also your children so they don’t get into disagreements and expensive litigation.
8. Strong “no-contest” clause to discourage litigation over shares.
9. Designation of guardians for minor children and trustees for children who are under age 18 when their parents pass away.
10. Possible powers of attorney, depending upon various factors.
11. Advance health care directives (aka health care powers of attorney) are signed.
12. Consideration of how to handle life insurance policies as part of the plan.
13. Consideration of how to handle IRA accounts and pension plans.
14. Are any charitable gifts to be made?
15. If there are real properties or business interests then additional factors need to be considered.
16. People of advanced age making a will or trust have additional concerns such as creating evidence of competency so the documents can’t be challenged later.
Various documents which may be prepared
What is done depends upon the situation. Here is a list of documents often prepared, but you may or may not need some of these:
1. A will
2. A declaration of trust
3. Certification of trust
4. An Advance Health Care directive
5. Durable power of attorney
6. Deed to transfer your house into the trust
7. Deeds transferring other assets into your trust
8. Forms to the county to prevent property taxes from increasing on account of trans-fer of properties into the trust
9. Personal property distribution lists
10. Assignments of other assets into the trust such as stocks and business interests
11. Nomination of guardians for minor children
12. Nomination of conservator
13. Specific instructions about how to fund the trust once it is created
14. Special needs trust provisions and/or separate trusts to care for children or rela-tives with disabilities or special needs and/or who are on public assistance
15. Life insurance trusts
16. Limited liability companies and/or family limited partnerships
17. Corporation formation-either a C corp or an S corp