WHY ESTATE PLANNING?
Estate planning is often considered something you should do if you are wealthy, older, or married. But in reality, every adult, regardless of income level, age, or marital status, needs to have some foundational planning strategies in place if you want to keep the people you love out of court and out of conflict.
What is a foundational estate plan? It can be as simple as a will-based or trust-based plan, depending on your current life situation and future goals.
Our will-based planning generally consists of a will, durable power of attorney and healthcare directive. A will is a document that lays out how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the state’s intestate laws, i.e., to your family members. Although creating a will is the very least you should have in place, sometimes just having a will in place is more likely to create conflict and problems. Most importantly, a will must be probated (go through the court system in order for your assets to be distributed). Probate is typically a very frustrating, time-consuming and needlessly expensive process.
Our trust-based planning generally consists of a pour-over will, revocable living trust, durable power of attorney and healthcare directive. Having a trust as part of your foundational estate planning will keep your assets and loved ones out of court. While you are alive, you maintain control of those assets and if you become incapacitated or die, your chosen successor trustee (not the state) will step in your shoes to manage, protect and/or distribute your assets. This planning may save you tens of thousands of dollars, or more depending on the value of your estate.
If you have minor kids, a comprehensive protection plan is included in your foundational estate plan. The kids’ plan consists of a long-term nomination of guardian, confidential exclusion of guardian (if necessary), temporary short-term guardians, power of attorney and health care agent, emergency id card, and instructions to caretakers.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
A Durable Power of Attorney is a legal document where you give another person the authority to manage your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.
HEALTH CARE DIRECTIVE
An Advance Health Care Directive is a legal document where you give another person permission to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions yourself. The document also states your wishes about life support and other medical treatments.