Estate Planning

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Are You In Need of Estate Planning?

Estate planning. We are dedicated to providing an estate plan to meet each client’s unique goals and needs. Estate planning is not just about what happens to your assets after you pass away. Effective estate planning looks at all of the issues, from death and disability to Medicaid and nursing home care. We provide comprehensive options for ensuring the financial security of your loved ones by protecting your assets through the use of trusts and other legal instruments. A trust is a legal “rule book” that permits your family to carry out your wishes and promote your values when you are no longer able to, without unnecessary legal process or court intervention. We prepare wills for clients who choose not to create trusts, in addition to powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills.

In our 20+ years of practicing in this area of law, we have seen many happy endings and many sad endings. Generally speaking, those families who DO plan tend to pass their assets along with fewer problems than those who don’t plan. With NO planning, estates can be seriously eroded by probate costs, estate taxes and unnecessary legal expenses.

Additionally, failure to properly plan can create emotional rifts in the family that may never go away. Life is too short to be estranged from a family member for the rest of your life because no one knew who was to get a personal item of great sentimental significance like Momma’s wedding ring or the family Bible. By legally giving voice to your intentions, you can go a long way toward reducing the possibility of family fights. Your children will thank you.

If you have not given your estate the attention that it and your family deserve, give us a call. Failure to seek qualified professional assistance can be very expensive.

For a sample of our Estate Planning Newsletter which is published periodically by our firm, go to the Downloads link to the left. If you would like to subscribe to this Free Newsletter, just send your name, address and e-mail address to us by clicking on the ‘Contact Us’ button to the left. We will then add you to our newsletter list.

Here are a few specific issues that require careful planning:

  • 2nd Marriages: 2nd marriages have baggage – sometimes a lot of baggage. For example, it is not uncommon for couples in a 2nd marriage to have His Kids, Her Kids, (and sometimes) Their Kids. Also, His Assets, Her Assets and Their assets. It can get very messy in the event of a subsequent divorce or ultimate death of one of the spouses. Failure to plan can yield a very different result at death than the person anticipated. It is very important to have proper estate planning in place BEFORE the 2nd marriage wedding day. Correct planning actions may involve each spouse-to-be to prepare their own separate trust, funded by their separate assets. Additionally a properly prepared pre-nuptial agreement is often a good idea.If it is too late to pre-plan (because you are already married) planning is still very effective to do death planning. Life can be very unpleasant for a surviving spouse after the death of his/her spouse if a proper plan was not prepared by both spouses, while they had the capacity to plan. It also helps if this plan is communicated to the kids by their parent. This goes a long way toward eliminating family disagreements after the death of a spouse.
  • Capacity: When you lose capacity, it is too late to plan. For example, if you have not planned correctly: Without a properly designed financial power of attorney, a Court ordered guardianship, which could be contested, could be required. Without a properly designed health care power of attorney, you could be left without a designated person to make health care decisions on your behalf. Without a properly designed HIPAA Authorization, your spouse or children may not be able to access your health care documents or obtain health care information from your doctors or hospital where you may be a patient.Without a properly prepared will or trust, you forfeit the power to choose how your assets are distributed at your death – the State’s plan – not yours – will control distribution.Plan while you still have the mental capacity to do so. When it is too late, it is too late!
  • College Planning: Are you concerned that your grandchildren will be able to go to college? Especially with the current economic situation that we are now experiencing, many young families are not able to save money to fund their grandchildren’s college fund. If you are concerned that this may be the situation with your family, contact us to learn about an efficient and tactful way to make sure your grandchildren can go to the college of their choice.
  • Dynasty Planning: Do you think your children will spend their inheritance? Some “kids” are good at managing money and some are not. Some have a “helpful” spouse. You know your children better than anyone and know what is best for them. A trust can be established to provide assistance for your children during their life, and retain money for the benefit of your grandchildren. If this type of planning would be beneficial for your family, click on the link below for information or contact our office for a FREE 1 Hour Consultation.

 

Business Owners: If you are a business owner, you have a great degree of extra risk, which means you need to take extra precautions to protect your family from this risk. If you have not yet formed your business, contact us so that we can do the necessary planning to asset protect the business and YOU, individually from any claims. If you have already formed your business and are operational, it is a good idea to revisit the way your business is structured to make sure that you are protected in the event the unforeseen happens. Sometimes negligent actions by employees or legal actions by others, even if they are totally unfounded, can cost you a ton of money. We sometimes use the analogy of protecting yourself and your business by using “boxes and bubbles”, which are certain types of trusts and other legal entities. You can go a long way to protect your assets by putting a box around all assets to protect them from claims from the outside in. Also, you can protect and isolated individual holding by putting a bubble around them to protect yourself from liability from the inside out. If you do own a business, contact us for information on asset protection planning for business owners.

Even if you aren’t in any of the above groups, you should consider some degree of asset protection. “The unknown” can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly and have a devastating effect on our family and the assets that they have left to support them. For example, a car wreck or an injury on your property could cause you to lose many of your assets, and insurance companies can often find loopholes to avoid paying all (or any) of the amount that is owed.

If you have not given your estate the attention that it and your family deserve, give us a call. Failure to seek qualified professional assistance can be very expensive.

For a sample of our Estate Planning Newsletter which is published periodically by our firm, go to the Downloads link to the left. If you would like to subscribe to this Free Newsletter, just send your name, address and e-mail address to us by clicking on the ‘Contact Us’ button to the left. We will then add you to our newsletter list.

Order our Free “Estate Planning” Report by entering your name and e-mail in the above form for the rest of the story.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]