Estate Planning

"Benjamin Franklin said, 'but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.' Unfortunately, estate planners have often taken that quote to heart and acted as though estate planning is fundamentally about death . . . To the contrary, the fundamental purpose of estate planning is to leave a legacy for the living."

(written by John C. Scroggin)

 

Reasons to Make an Estate Plan

Regardless of what stage in life you are in, there are good reasons for you to consider having a professional estate plan drawn up.  The purpose of estate planning is to make important decisions for yourself, your family and your finances while you are still able to do so. If you were to become incapacitated, disabled or deceased, your estate plan will allow you to:

  • Control your property while you are alive and well
  • Provide for yourself and your loved ones if you become incapacitated/disabled
  • Give what you have
    • To whom you want
    • The way you want
    • When you want
  • Minimize the impact of professional fees, court costs, and taxes

Incapacity Planning

A big part of what we do is called “incapacity planning.”  In this day and age, medical science has improved to the point where people are living longer and longer.  Life expectancy has increased by 35 years since the early 1900s.  The prolongation of old age means there are longer periods of diminished decision-making capacity. It is critical to have an estate plan in place, early on, that will lay out:

  • Who will make decisions if you are not able
  • Ways to avoid a family conflict
  • The types of care/treatment that are desired/not desired
  • A plan to protect your finances and property if you become incapacitated

Estate Planning Tools

We have many tools we can use to achieve your goals.  These include wills, trusts, powers of attorney and the use of non-probate asssets. Each tool has a unique function and application. The key to a successful estate plan is to use the right combination of tools, at the right time, to achieve your desires.  We can design a unique estate plan for you that will:

  • Allow you to select an agent whom you would authorize to manage your day-to-day affairs
  • Give you a healthcare Power of Attorney to preserve your health and well-being and allow you to state your desire on important issues, like:
    • Will you remain in your home?
    • Who will make pain management decisions?
    • Who will make end-of-life decisions.
    • What religious issues are important to you.
    • How do you want to deal with anticipated family/emotional issues?
  • What will happen with your property when you die?
  • Who will care for you minor children should you become unable to do so.

Consequences of Not Having an Estate Plan

There are two events that can happen when you will need an estate plan.  The event people are most aware of is death. If you die without an estate plan, your heirs will have to go to probate court and ask a judge to distribute your property and financial assets. If you have minor children, a judge will have to decide who will take of your children for you.

The second event that requires an estate plan is having an incapacity or disability that renders you unable to make sound decision. We can help you draft the important legal documents that will establish your will in deciding whom you want to take care of your children and your personal finances. Not having an estate plan means you lose control of the process and someone else will be making your most important decisions for you.

 

Have questions about estate planning?

We will meet with for up to two hours with no commitment.