We advise individuals, couples, and families regarding the most effective and efficient vehicles to accomplish their estate planning objectives. Visit our Resources section for more information about Estate Planning.
What is estate planning anyway?
In a nutshell, estate planning is being intentional about the legacy (financial and personal) you are leaving by memorializing your wishes. It is a puzzle that pieces together asset protection, planning for death, planning for incapacity, and in some instances, transfer taxes. It involves attorney and client education, legal documents, and coordinating account and beneficiary designations on assets like life insurance and retirement accounts.
First, we seek to be educated by our clients about:
- Their family dynamics
- Their assets and liabilities
- Their values and objectives regarding the descent of their assets
- Any charitable giving objectives
- Special considerations such as minors, medical or personal challenges, blended families, unique family assets, etc.
Second, we seek to educate our clients by offering a brief overview of:
- Asset protection
- Incapacity planning
- The estate administration process (we cannot determine the most effective, efficient way to get somewhere without knowing where we are going, after all)
- Transfer taxes
Next, with the client, we determine which legal documents most effectively and efficiently meet the client’s needs. These may include: wills, revocable trusts, special purpose trusts, powers of attorney, transfer on death deeds, and more.
Our standard will package for an individual includes 5 documents: Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization, and Advanced Directive.
Our standard will package for a couple includes 10 documents: a set of the above documents for each spouse.
In lieu of a will, a revocable trust (also called a living trust or inter vivos trust) might be the better vehicle for articulating your wishes. With careful thought and consideration, we assist you in deciding between using a will or a revocable trust as the document to memorialize your wishes. Neither will sacrifice effectiveness, though depending on your circumstances, one will likely be more efficient.
Our standard trust package for an individual includes a minimum of 6 documents: Revocable trust, Pour over will, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, HIPAA Authorization, and Advanced Directive. To the extent documents are needed to fund the trust (i.e. place legal title to property in the trust), the appropriate documents are added to the package.
Finally, we assist with coordinating beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and life insurance, account designations on checking, savings, and brokerage accounts, guardian considerations for minors, as well as assist with special considerations for beneficiaries with unique medical or personal needs, and asset protection.