Through the use of Wills, Trusts, Life Gifts and other estate planning tools, we help clients who are seeking to avoid probate costs, minimize state and federal taxes and best preserve their assets for intended beneficiaries.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of legally structuring the future disposition of your assets. An estate plan protects your family and finances after you die by making future asset distribution and tax savings decisions beforehand. Regardless of your net worth it is important to have a basic plan in place. By planning your estate, you can maximize its value by minimizing taxes and eliminating court costs and interference.
Estate planning can also help you control and protect your estate during your lifetime, by writing documents that allow you to transfer property and money to children, charities, or others in a way you desire.
What are some elements of an Estate Plan.
Many people think that estate plans are for someone else, not them. They may rationalize that they are too young or don’t have enough money to reap the tax benefits of a plan.
Depending on your individual needs, various elements may apply:
They include: a Will; assignment of Power of Attorney; and a Living Will or Health-Care proxy (medical power of attorney). For some people, a Trust may also make sense. When putting together a plan, you must be mindful of both federal and state laws governing estates.
What is a Living Trust or Revocable Trust?
A Living Trust or Revocable Trust is a legal document to hold and own the Trustmaker's assets. It is an estate planning tool that can help your beneficiaries avoid the costs and burden of probate. Because the Trustmaker will not own any property in his or her individual name after they have been funded into the trust - they will instead be owned by the Trustee for the benefit of the Beneficiary - when the Trustmaker dies, the trust assets won't need to be probated. Avoiding probate is by far the most recognized benefit of a Living Trust and usually the one that convinces the majority of people to set one up.
How do I fund a Trust?
Funding a trust is just as important as setting it up. You may fund the trust with various assets including your bank and investment accounts, stocks, savings bonds, personal effects, retirement accounts, life insurance, business interests and real estate. There are some general procedures in order to properly fund the Trust which depend on the type of property being funded: Change of title/ownership, Assignment of ownership rights, or Change of beneficiary. You may want to discuss such options with your chosen Trustee, family, intended beneficiaries or Elder Law attorney.
What if I want to change my Trust?
One of the benefits of using a Revocable Living Trust as the foundation of your estate is that it gives you the flexibility to make changes to the terms of it any time you choose. For instance, you may decide on an additional beneficiary for some of your assets. Or perhaps you would like a relative to take ownership of the real estate that you have in the Trust. As your attorneys we can help you and your family in every situation. We are more than an elder law practice--we look beyond to provide the best solutions for your family or beneficiaries as well. We also provide clear explanations of legal terms and any actions taken in setting up a Trust. We'll help you realzie your goals in the best and most cost effective manner.
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“Dear Brian: Thank you for your assistance with the drafting of the wills, trust and ancillary documents on behalf of Joe and myself. I also wanted to personally thank you for making, what could have been such a difficult process, so much more bearable; I am very grateful to you for that.”