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Everyone should have an Estate Plan to ensure that their family assets with transfer as they desire. Some assets may transfer outside of probate (a court process) while others may require probate. Often, people have no idea what their net worth is because they don’t take stock of what assets they have and the value of those assets. How asset titles transfer depends on the nature and value of the assets. With a little bit of planning and working with us, you can ensure that family assets will transfer properly and financial and legal hurdles during a stressful time will be minimized.
Here’s what we do:
- Prepare the transfer of your assets to others upon your death so that all you have worked for in your life goes to whom you want in the time and fashion you desire.
- Secure control of your assets by creating written documentation that will communicate your desires after your death.
- Design each plan to meet individual needs and desires through step-by-step collaboration.
It is our goal to help create the best Estate Plan possible for you, ensuring maximization of your goals and minimum tax impact on your estate. We provide a personal touch, meeting your family’s need for the short and long term. We do all of this without charging excessive fees. We strive to understand your needs to help determine if you simply need a Will or Trust or a combination of techniques to best suit your goals and circumstances.
It is our job, our goal, to make your Estate Planning fit your Personal Needs!
A Lesson in Estate Planning
What is Estate Planning?
Estate Planning is preparation ahead of time to deal with incapacity and death later in life. By creating an estate plan, you can (1) designate individuals or entities to make medical decisions for you and handle your assets should you become incapacitated; and (2) designate who receives which of your assets and when they receive them after you pass away. A proper estate plan is a series of legal documents which will ensure you are taken care of during incapacity and your estate will be administered according to your wishes when you pass away.
Important factors to consider:
- Carrying out the desired distribution of your estate
- Reducing or eliminating taxes
- Providing for ease of administration for your survivors
- Minimizing cost (at the time of initial planning, at death, or both)
- Maintaining privacy
- Providing for lifetime asset management
- Choosing a guardian for your minor children, and providing for protection of their property until adulthood
Estate planning provides written instructions to your Trustee, Personal Representative, and Agents for the care of you and your estate, facilitating administration and giving them guidance to effectuate your wishes.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process for transferring assets which occurs through the court system. Probate may occur whether someone dies with a Will or without a Will, which is termed “intestate”. Depending on the complexity of an estate and the family dynamics, probate may be an expensive process. Most probates will take about six months, due to the fact that it takes about a month to publish notice of probate, and four months after that must be allowed for creditors to assert their claims. Estate planning may avoid this time consuming and possibly costly process.
What is a Trust?
A trust is an agreement, a binding document, which authorizes one or more people or organizations to control assets belonging to a second person for the benefit of a third person (who may be the same as the second person). Trusts come in many types, but a revocable living trust is one you create and fund while you are alive; it may be revoked at any time. While a Will usually distributes your assets immediately on your death, a trust may hold assets for years after you pass away, possibly allowing minor children to grow and receive an education, or allowing a trustee (person who controls the assets) to manage a business until minors come of age or young adults finish their college education. Because assets are held in a trust, a trustee has access to and control of all assets, and when a trustor (person who funds the trust) dies, the successor trustee has complete control of the same assets, making succession seamless. The trustee is bound by the terms of the written trust agreement, so your desires, as expressed in your trust agreement, will be accomplished.
A trust may also be an effective estate planning tool to lower the impact of an estate tax liability, ensure assets set aside for the children of blended families are protected until distributed, and to avoid the probate process.