estate planning

Estate Planning

The average American assumes he has no need for an estate plan. Even those that do recognize the importance in preparing for at-death asset transferring typically believe a simple will is sufficient to transfer their property. While a will can be a vital triggering device and a central component of an estate plan, there are many critical aspects of the planning process that a will neglects to address. More specifically, an individual must take precautions for his spouse and/or minor children, plan for any medical emergency to himself, as well as determine the most effective way to ensure the maximum amount of his property is transferred to his preferred devisees.

In order to accomplish all of these goals, a complete estate plan usually includes a will, one or more trusts, a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy, and other necessary legal tools. Some of these instruments take effect during life while others are effective only at death. Together, these documents permit an individual to dispose of his property during life or at death, provide for the care of his minor children after death, minimize transfer taxes, and facilitate the continuing management of his affairs and care of his person in the event he becomes incapacitated.

Another estate planning consideration is whether a client’s property is protected from creditors at death. While some assets (nonprobate property) transfer directly to beneficiaries, other property is subjected to the probate process. During probate, creditors can often claim interests in property before it reaches the chosen devisees. Effective planning, however, can minimize creditor liability to ensure a client’s property ends up in the proper hands.

This Estate Planning Process section will serve to educate visitors regarding processes, concerns, and considerations involved in planning for death. Guests should take comfort as they learn how they can protect their loved one’s long-term well-being.

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