Estate Planning

 

 

Everyone should have an estate plan regardless of age or wealth.

According to the Wall Street Journal, there are four estate-planning documents everyone should have:

  1. A will. It’s important for you to decide who inherits your assets, but it’s just as important to decide who manages your affairs. These two goals are accomplished in a will. If you don’t make these decisions in a will, a court of law will make all those decisions without concern for your wishes.
  2. A durable power of attorney. Pick someone you trust to make financial and legal decisions for you if you're ever incapacitated. We ask clients to consider a back up person as well.
  3. A medical power of attorney. If you’re incapacitated, you need to name someone else to make decisions about your health care or end-of-life decisions. We help clients determine who could make clear-headed, informed decisions on their behalf.
  4. A living will. In addition to choosing someone to make health care decisions for you, you should set guidelines and parameters for how those decisions should be made for you.

What happens if you don’t have an estate plan? If you’re alive, but incapacitated, your health and wealth could be neglected or mismanaged. Upon your death, a court would make decisions about your assets based on the default rules of the law regardless of your wishes. The lack of an estate plan could also increase the likelihood of a dispute among your loved ones. The four documents above address these concerns.

How can a trust help?

In addition to the four documents above, clients often choose to create a trust. Below are some of the reasons clients choose a trust.

  • A trust avoids the stress and costs of probate court.
  • The beneficiaries and property in your trust can remain private.
  • You can set conditions for how your beneficiaries may use your assets.
  • Your children can be protected if your spouse remarries.
  • You and your spouse can maximize your estate-tax exemptions.
  • A disabled relative could receive support without losing government assistance.
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