Estate Planning & Asset Protection Clients
What is estate planning?
Property must somehow be passed to another person when someone passes away. Competent adults have the right to choose how their assets are distributed after they pass. However, most states disallow the complete disinheritance of a spouse which is called spousal right of election. Estate Planning involves organizing your affairs so that you can plan for the distribution of your home, investments, any business you may own, life insurance, employee benefits or other property. In addition to planning for your property you will need to plan to minimize potential estate taxes and settlement costs. Estate planning also includes health care directives for when you are unable to give directions yourself. The person appointed for this should be someone you know and trust and be know when to authorize said directives.
Why is it important to develop an estate plan?
Assuming you do not have enough assets to plan for or that your children can divide the assets by themselves causes many people not to develop estate planning documents. Without proper legal documents and directions for your assets after your passing the estate will go into probate. Probate is a public, court-supervised proceeding that can be expensive and take more time for your beneficiaries to receive their assets. Sometimes the stress of deciding who should be the appointed authority to manage your affairs can tear apart families which is an ever greater reason to establish estate planning documents.
What does my estate include?
Items included in your estate are the following:
- Your home and other real estate owned by you
- Business interests you may have
- Your share of joint accounts
- Retirement accounts in their entirety
- Life insurance policies owned by you
- Property owned by a trust in which you have significant stake
What estate planning documents should I have?
An estate plan should be comprised of documents prepared by an attorney. The attorney you select should be educated in Estate Planning and take time to learn your particular family and financial situation. These documents should include:
- A Living Trust
- A Will
- A “Durable Power of Attorney for Property”