What is Estate Planning?

You may believe that the term “estate planning” refers to the management of affairs for those who are wealthy.  However, you have an estate. Your estate is merely everything you own.  Whether it be a house, car, boat investments, or your personal possessions, it all is considered your estate.  It does not matter how much or how little, but it is yours – until you pass away.

Are you concerned about what people or organizations will receive your assets? If you are, then you need to provide instructions stating whom you want to receive something of yours, what you want them to receive, and when they are to receive it. You will, of course, want this to happen with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees, and court costs.

That is the basis of estate planning; to memorialize now, who you want to receive your assets, in what amounts, under what conditions and when to receive them.  Doing this now will make it  easier on all involved later.  Proper estate planning may (and in many cases, should) also address:

  • Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
  • Naming guardians for minor children.
  • Establishing a trust for a minor so that someone can exercise fiscal responsibility until the child becomes independent.
  • Provide for family members with special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.
  • Protect a child from his own spending habits or protect against a unscrupulous child-in-law.
  • Business succession.
  • The orderly distribution of your assets to the people you want in the amounts you want under the conditions you want.

Your physical wellbeing  is at least as important as your financial comfort, and therefore, Estate Planning should include planning for health.  It can provide legal documentation to protect yourself in the event that you become incompetent or ill and cannot direct your own care.  Estate planning is crucial for peace of mind because it allows you to minimize disputes between your beneficiaries, minimize applicable taxes for your heirs, and choose the right people to help you make financial and medical decisions in the event you cannot.

While everyone’s estate planning needs will differ, Estate Planning can help families prepare for both the present and the future through the use of basic documents such as Last Will and Testaments, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, and Health Care Proxies, as well as more advanced documents such as Irrevocable and Revocable Trusts. Our firm will discuss your individual estate planning goals and devise a plan based upon your goals.   Be sure to click on our services page to get a more detailed description of each of those benefits and documents.