Estate Planning

Good estate planning allows you to plan for yourself & your loved ones without giving up control of your affairs.  Your estate plan should allow you to plan for the possibility of your own disability.  You should be able to give what you own to whom you want to receive it, the way you want them to receive it, & when you want them to receive it. Your estate plan should save every tax dollar, professional fee, & court cost that can legally be saved.

The Pitfalls of Wills

  • Wills guarantee probate.  Probate generates executor & attorney fees and causes delays before your loved ones can receive their inheritance.
  • Wills are fully public.  They are open to inspection by anyone who wants to know about your debts & your beneficiaries or their inheritances.
  • Wills offer no planning or direction for you or your family in the event of your disability.
  • Wills are easily challenged by unhappy relatives.
  • Wills often don’t control your life insurance proceeds, retirement benefits, or jointly-owned property.
  • Wills are often form documents written in hard-to-understand language.  They don’t capture your hopes, fears, dreams, values, & ambitions.
  • Wills may not be effective when you move to or own property in another state.

The Pitfalls of Jointly-Owned Property

  • Your joint tenancy property can pass to unintended heirs.
  • Joint tenancy does not avoid probate.  It only delays it.
  • There may be unintended gift and estate taxes if joint tenancy is used between non-spouses or with children.
  • Joint tenancy makes no provision for estate tax planning.
  • You give up ultimate control.

 

The Pitfalls of Planning with A Beneficiary Designation

In other words, designating who will receive your life insurance, retirement accounts, pension benefits, & bank or investment account with beneficiary or pay on death contracts.

 

  • “Beneficiary designation” often means losing control of a major part of your estate.  It does not enable you to leave instructions or provide guidance to your loved ones.
  • The wrong beneficiary may be named.
  • It won’t protect your spouse & children from creditors or unscrupulous people.
  • Equal distributions from a beneficiary designation can cause results that won’t meet your family’s unique needs.
  • Beneficiary designations make no provision for federal tax planning.

 

The Pitfalls of Bare-Bones Living Trusts

  • Many trusts are sterile legal forms that do not contain instructions for loved ones.  They only accomplish limited objectives.
  • If not fully funded, living trusts do not avoid probate.

 

What Can Good Estate Planning Do For You?

  • Provide instruction for your care & that of your loved ones in the event of your disability.
  • Be effective if you move to or own property in another state.
  • Avoid probate & the associated legal costs.
  • Keep your affairs private & confidential.
  • Control all of your property, including pensions & life insurance.
  • Allow you to leave explicit instructions for the care of your loved ones.
  • Create protective trusts & asset protection for your young children, disadvantaged children, adult children & grandchildren.
  • Provide federal estate tax planning or governmental assistance planning.

The Estate Planning Solution

The basis of a good estate plan is a revocable living trust that contains your special instructions for your own care & that of your loved ones.  These instructions are what distinguish our living trust documents from wills & barebones living trusts. Your living trust can be changed or canceled at any time.  As maker, trustee, & primary beneficiary, you control every aspect of how your property will be used.  You also appoint the trustee(s), & you maintain control.

Good Estate Planning Meets Your Goals

A properly prepared plan meets your unique goals.  It allows you to plan for your disability & direct the distribution of your property.  It saves tax dollars, professional fees, & court costs.  And, most importantly, it keeps you in control of your own affairs.