WILLS, TRUSTS & ESTATE PLANNING
A well-drafted estate plan that accurately reflects a client’s needs and wishes- while maintaining maximum flexibility- is a key component of any sound financial plan and can reduce problems at the time of a person’s death. Our firm prepares wills, trusts, living wills, health care powers of attorney, durable powers of attorney, organ donations, cremation orders, and other miscellaneous documents for clients. We also work closely with life insurance agents to coordinate the preparation and implementation of irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILIT).
A brief overview of some basic estate planning documents:
Will: a “Will” is a testamentary document that instructs how, to who and in what amounts your property will be distributed at the time of your death. Your Will is going to name a Personal Representative (called an “executor” in other states) and successors. Your Will must also be prepared with certain formalities or requirements in order to be valid.
Trust: A Trust is an entity that is created in life by a person while they are living. There are many types of Trusts but the single biggest feature of a trust deals with its revocability.
A Revocable Living Trust is created by a person (called the Grantor) while he or she is alive. The terms of the Trust usually include provisions for the support of the Grantor while he or she is alive but unable to manage their own assets. The provisions of the Revocable Trust also provide for the distribution of the Trust’s assets after the Grantor has passed away. Much like the Personal Representative in a Will, a Grantor of a Trust will name an initial Trustee (usually the Grantor herself) to manage the Trust and will also name successors. A Revocable Trust can be amended, changed or revoked at any time by the Grantor and is therefore a very flexible vehicle for estate planning.
n Irrevocable Trust is also created by a Grantor and retains many similar features to the Revocable Trust, such as the disposition of assets after the Grantor’s death; naming of successor Trustees. An Irrevocable Trust- is just what the name implies: Irrevocable, and changes thereto can often be very difficult, sometimes impossible.
Health Care Surrogate & Durable Powers of Attorney: A Designation of a Health Care Atty in fact names your medical decision maker (and their successor) in case you become incapacitated and can no longer make your own decisions. A Durable Power of Attorney names your legal decision maker (and their successor) when you become incapacitated and can no longer make your own decisions.
The largest benefit of preparing a Designation of Health Care Surrogate and a Durable Power of Attorney is that you can name a decision-maker as to your person (health) and property BEFORE you get too sick to manage your affairs thereby probably avoiding your family’s having to go to court and obtain an appointment as your legal Guardian which can quite costly and lengthy.
Living Will: A Living Will is a directive that instructs your family and loved ones that you do not want to be kept alive under artificial life-saving measures if there is no reasonable probability of your recovering from that ailment.