Estate Planning

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning refers to the establishment of instructions in the form of legal documents providing for the administration, management, and distribution of assets in case of an incapacity or death. There are many types of estate plans out there and the keys to establishing an effective estate plan, meaning one that accomplishes one's goals and works properly, are:

  • Working closely with an experienced attorney to establish the plan in order to address all of the issues that can affect an estate plan

What types of documents are generally used as a part of an estate plan?

Revocable Living Trust

A revocable living trust is often used as the central document in an estate plan because it offers 3 distinct advantages

  • This document allows a family to maintain complete control over their assets during their lifetime.
  • It also allows the family to customize how they would like their affairs handled and administered privately, rather than through the court system.
  • The trust instructions are easily changeable and amendable to accommodate the many personal, financial, and legal changes that an estate plan will face over the years.

Will

A Will is a legal document that provides instructions to the Probate Court for how one's assets should be distributed at their death. The use of a Will as the foundation of an estate plan guarantees that the court will oversee the administration of the estate. Common complaints about the Probate Process includes:

  • Delay – the average Probate takes approximately 1 to 1.5 years
  • Cost – average probate fees are estimated at about 4%-5% of the value of the estate
  • Privacy Concerns – Wills are public documents and the information contained in them are easily accessible and contestable

Powers of Attorney

Powers of Attorney are used to provide a trusted helper with the ability to make important financial or medical decisions on behalf of someone else. Generally these powers are only granted for very specific purposes or only when the individual becomes incapacitated and is not able to make these decisions for him or herself.

A complete estate plan will utilize the above mentioned documents as well as some others to ensure the plan will work properly and be carried out in an efficient manner.