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Planning for the Future
Estate planning can protect your family,
simplify or eliminate probate, and give you peace of mind.
Planning for Your Death
With proper estate planning you can accomplish the following:
Direct who will receive your assets at your death
Select the person who will wind up your affairs (called a "personal representative")
Provide for gifts to charities
Disinherit an heir
Minimize estate and inheritance taxes
If you have minor children, there are additional reasons to have an estate plan, among these:
Select the person who will be the guardian of your minor children
Provide that inheritances to a child will be subject to the oversight of a third party
Ensure that an ex-spouse can't control assets going to your minor children
Planning for Your Incapacity
What happens if you become incapacitated and cannot manage your financial affairs or make your medical decisions? The following documents can avoid costly guardianship proceedings by enabling you to designate an agent to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated:
Financial Power of Attorney: You may name one or more agents to take care of your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself.
Health Care Power of Attorney: You may designate who can make health care decisions on your behalf.
Power of Attorney for Minor Children: You can name persons who can make decisions for your minor child in the event you are temporarily unavailable or if you become incapacitated.
Estate Planning Documents in a Nutshell
Will: Specifies who will receive your assets at your death and names the person who will wind up your affairs and distribute your assets to the beneficiaries.
Financial Power of Attorney: A document in which you appoint a person as your agent to handle your financial affairs if you are incapacitated or unable to act. This document is effective during your lifetime but is revoked at your death (then the personal representative takes over).
Health Care Power of Attorney: A document in which you name an agent who will make health care decisions on your behalf should you become unable to make your own decisions. Like the financial power of attorney, this document can avoid costly guardianship proceedings.
Health Care Directive: Specifies your health care wishes in the event you have a terminal condition or are in a permanent unconscious condition. A health care directive provides guidance to the agent named under a health care power of attorney or to loved ones who may have to make difficult end-of-life decisions.
Community Property Agreement: A contract entered into by a married couple which typically provides that upon the death of the first spouse, all community property will automatically go the surviving spouse thus avoiding probate proceedings.
Trust: A trust is created by a trust agreement or in a Will. The person creating the trust specifies how assets put in the trust will be managed and distributed. The person managing the assets is called a "trustee." There are numerous reasons to create a trust, including avoiding probate, minimizing estate taxes and controlling assets going to a beneficiary after one dies, for example.
Transfer on Death Deed: You may designate a beneficiary for your real estate by signing a transfer on death deed. The property is automatically transferred to the beneficiary upon the recording of a death certificate, thus avoiding probate.
We bill most estate planning services on a flat fee basis.
We will provide a fee schedule upon request.
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