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A Roadmap to Protecting Your Family
Estate planning is an integral part of a comprehensive financial plan particularly for those with children and business owners. A quality estate plan consists of more than just executing a will, trust, or other proper estate planning documents. Properly titling assets, life insurance planning, beneficiary planning for retirement accounts, annuities, and other financial accounts are all part of a complete estate plan.
During the estate planning process, we will review your financial situation, discuss your family dynamics, listen to your goals and concerns, explain the issues relevant to your situation, and discuss your options with you to formulate a plan. We will walk you through all of the actions needed to execute your plan necessary to achieve your estate planning objectives.
Power of Attorney
Health Care Directives
Frequently Asked Questions
Estate planning is for everyone, not just for the wealthy. An estate plan creates an outline of intentions for your assets which can minimize disputes after your death and can help to minimize estate taxes.
Every estate plan begins with a consultation. We meet with our clients and have an in-depth conversation with them about their life, marital status, family dynamic, assets and goals for their estate plan. Using that information, we can determine the package that would best suit their family’s needs.
The biggest misconception about estate planning is that you don’t need an estate plan unless you have significant assets. Many people assume that their belongings will automatically be shared amongst their loved ones after they pass away. Without an estate plan, state laws will dictate what happens upon your death or incapacitation. Thus, your estate would be distributed under the laws of intestacy and go through probate – a court supervised proceeding, which can be expensive and inefficient and may not achieve the results that are right for you or your family.
Prior to your appointment, we’ll send you a package of information for you to review. Included in the package is a questionnaire that will help you detail and inventory your assets. We ask that you complete this questionnaire and provide it to us prior to your appointment so we have an opportunity to review beforehand.
Next, we ask that you start to gather your most recent statements from bank accounts, investment accounts, deeds to all property (in state or out of state), life insurance policy information, business information (if you’re a business owner), and retirement plan statements. This is just a starting point and we understand if you’re unable to find everything. Please keep all documents in the folder that came with your packet and bring it with you to your appointment.
A will is a written document created to provide instructions for your loved ones when you die. A will can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. You can use the document to name an executor/personal representative, identify who inherits what property, who will be appointed as a guardian for your children and more. A will is an extremely useful document, but it does have its limitations.
A trust can ensure control over the assets in your estate that your will does not apply to. A trust is a written agreement that creates a fiduciary relationship between a trustmaker/grantor and a trustee (the individual who has the right to hold assets for named beneficiaries).
Unlike a will, you can maintain considerable control over a trust while alive if the trust is a revocable living trust. Trusts bypass probate, avoid or reduce estate taxes in certain cases, and can offer asset protection for beneficiaries.
A power of attorney gives you the ability to name an individual who will be responsible for making financial and legal decisions in the event you become incapacitated. Creating a power of attorney ensures your loved ones do not have to obtain a court appointed conservatorship if you become incapacitated and that the people you trust are in charge of your financial affairs.
A health care proxy is another document that deals with incapacity. The document is used to appoint an individual who will be in charge of making healthcare decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity.
Another document that’s used for healthcare decision making is a living will. It is used to provide clarity to your health care proxy about your wishes relating to end of life decisions. A living will can communicate your preferences for life support, tube feeding, artificial hydration, and pain medication.