I work with every client to create an estate plan that meets their unique goals. I do not, however, work with families in conflict or do any kind of estate or trusts litigation work.
While every family is different, I have found that there are some common concerns for most families.
Parents of adult children often are concerned with these issues:
- Dividing up their assets in an equitable manner.
- Dealing with a child who may not be responsible about money or have special needs.
- Making sure that their affairs are in order.
Parents of young children often have three basic estate planning goals.
- Appoint guardians to care for minor children,
- Create a plan to manage assets left behind for children, and
- Preserve wealth by reducing or eliminating taxes and transfer costs.
There are three main legal documents that we use to accomplish these goals.Wills
Wills are the simplest estate planning tools. They are extremely flexible and provide for appointment of guardians, tax savings trusts, and trusts for children. They do not substantially reduce the costs of wealth transfer (i.e. probate).Living Trusts
Living trusts are legal entities that hold property during a persons' life and provide for a distribution plan after death. All assets in the living trust avoid probate. Living trusts are coordinated with pour-over wills (a special kind of simple will) to appoint guardians and tie up loose ends.Powers of Attorney
Powers of attorney allow someone to make decisions and take actions on your behalf. There are two key documents for estate planning purposes:
Power of Attorney for Property Management - This allows someone to manage your financial affairs if you become incompetent.
Advance Health Care Directive - This document appoints someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to give informed consent, and states your wishes for end-of-life care.Life Insurance Trusts
Life insurance trusts are used in larger estates to provide liquidity and offset tax liability through the use of life insurance proceeds.Other tools:
Sophisticated estate planning involves numerous devices designed to reduce or shift tax liability. If your estate is large, ask us about other devices.
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