About Estate Planning
Estate planning frequently involves wills and trusts but it also covers much more. It is also a time to make plans in case of your incapacity and take steps to help your business run smoothly even if you are not available to supervise it. Having these processes in place means less stress for your loved ones and the assurance of future support for those who need it.
The time to create a good estate plan is when you are healthy and not facing immediate dire circumstances. Even addressing these issues early in a terminal illness is better than leaving them ignored. At Gold & Associates, P.C., we start with a free consultation and form an estate plan with your concerns in mind. Here is what that involves and how it will help you and your family.
Basic Estate Planning Steps
The beginning of estate planning starts with discussing your concerns and developing an inventory of your assets. If you are a business owner, that is also discussed since you likely have employees and dependents who would prefer that the enterprise continues even if you are unavailable. It is also possible that you have family members with special needs who rely on your support. All of these circumstances must be considered if you want an effective estate plan.
If this is your first endeavor into estate planning, take a look at our estate planning checklist.
Once there is a better understanding of your assets and concerns, you will start executing documents. These may include:
Your will appoints a personal representative to manage your estate, names guardians and conservators for minor children, and indicates your preferences when distributing property. It can also include other stipulations like creating a testamentary trust to manage your larger assets.
this is a trust created by a will for the purpose of handling larger assets. They often provide for long-term medical needs for dependents with specific health conditions or are designed to control the impulses of spendthrift family members. More advanced options include charitable trusts and trusts created to collect business income for the benefit of dependents.
This trust remains in effect as long as you are alive. It maintains your assets for the benefit of you and your family. These are often created for estate tax purposes and to avoid probate.
This document allows you to name an agent to handle your affairs should you become incapacitated or mentally incompetent. Duties assigned to the agent include paying bills, signing checks, hire professionals like attorneys or accountants, and manage day-to-day business affairs, like distributing paychecks. There are additional duties you can assign if you feel it is necessary.
Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (Patient Advocate Agreement)
if you are medically incapacitated, this agreement allows a health care agent to make health and treatment decisions on your behalf. When you execute this document, you can also sign a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order and other items that dictate your treatment preferences to guide your health care agent.
These basic documents provide a good basis for estate planning. In most cases, these are adequate for quickly transferring property, maintaining day-to-day matters, and making agonizing medical decisions a little easier. They make your wishes clearly known. However, there can be circumstances where you require more advanced estate planning.
Advanced Estate Planning
If your estate falls within the taxable realm or you have unique concerns, additional planning can be essential. Testamentary trusts with the intention of caring for family members with specific medical needs or charitable trusts fall under this category. Since these can protect your assets from estate taxes and assure the support of loved ones, they require additional effort.
These options also require long-term management. Without this administration, the trust could lose its protective status and leave your assets vulnerable. In addition to creating the trusts in the first place, you also need to take steps to assure its long-term feasibility. That is why we offer trust administration in additional to estate planning legal services.
At Gold & Associates, P.C. we offer the estate planning background to create a plan based on your unique needs. Whether it is a simple plan with only a few tools in place or a vast network of trusts and property transfers, your estate considerations will receive our thorough attention. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.