Advanced directives (Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Last Will and Testament, and Trust), as well as Pre-nuptial agreements prior to a first marriage or re-marriage, give you and your family peace of mind. The execution of these documents provides basic estate planning while you are alive, as well as estate administration after you pass. When you plan in advance, your wishes will govern how your financial, business, and health affairs are handled during your lifetime and after your death.
To Trust or Not to Trust: What is a TRUST? What is it not? Do you need one?
Your friend tells you she just created a trust and you should do it, too. Should you?
Types of trust (e.g. revocable, irrevocable, inter vivos (living), testamentary, etc.)
Do your circumstances warrant the creation of a trust: governmental assistance, Medicaid planning, spendthrift, addiction, control, ease of administration, etc.?
Now that you have created your trust, your work is just beginning. You need to fund it.
Deed Transfers: What are they and are they a good thing for you to do?
Pros and cons of deed transfers.
What are the costs? Who does it?
To whom do you transfer the property ownership?
Tax consequences (good and bad, like many things in life).
Misconceptions about Estate Planning
True or False: Estate planning is only for ‘wealthy’ people.
False: If you have a bank account, investments, a car, home, or other property, you need to plan your estate.
True or False: Estate planning is only about distributing my assets after I die.
False: Planning for unexpected events while you are alive includes determining:
who will manage your health affairs if you are no longer able to do so yourself, and the type of healthcare you will you receive; and
who has access to your financial assets and can manage your business and personal affairs for you, if necessary.
True or False: A Will manages the distribution of all of my assets.
False: Life insurance policies, qualified retirement accounts (401(k)s, IRAs, etc.), bank and brokerage accounts, have beneficiary designations. These assets transfer directly to the beneficiaries you name and are distributed outside a Will. Jointly owned assets also fall outside a Will.
True or False: Once I put a plan in place, I am done and do not need to review it again.
False: Planning changes with life events - birth, death, marriage, divorce, etc. It is important to review and update your estate planning documents, including account titling and beneficiary designations at least annually.