What does estate planning involve?
Estate planning involves an analysis of your estate, planning your present financial goals, and determining your wishes for distribution of your estate after your death. Your estate consists of all of your assets (real and personal property, retirement accounts, pensions, business interests, etc.) and liabilities (mortgages, loans, notes, etc.). The analysis includes a discussion of how your estate can meet your present financial needs and goals considering income, tax consequences, and present asset ownership interests. Determining your wishes for distribution of your estate upon your death requires an analysis of several topics including titling property, naming beneficiaries on accounts, and tax consequences.
Estate planning involves getting information and advice from a variety of professionals including financial advisors, accountants, and attorneys. Attorneys can assist you with the analysis and present and future goal setting included in the estate planning process. There are a variety of legal documents that can be used to implement your estate plan. For example:
A living will declaration sets forth your express wishes if you have an incurable or irreversible condition that requires life-sustaining treatment, so that loved ones can follow your express wishes.
A general durable power of attorney allows you to appoint a trusted person who is then granted authority to act on your behalf regarding specifically stated financial and/or health care matters.
A last will and testament contains your stated intentions for distributing your estate, and providing for the care of your minor children at your death.
A revocable living trust allows you to place your assets in trust to be controlled by the terms of the trust during your lifetime and after your death.
Your estate plan is not static. The assets and debts which comprise your estate will change, your present financial needs may change over time, your significant health needs and conditions may change, and your wishes for distribution upon death may change. Periodic review of your estate plan is encouraged so that your plan continues to match your needs and goals over time.
Our team of attorneys can assist you with the estate planning process from beginning to end, and with periodic reviews. Contact one of our attorneys to discuss your particular estate planning needs.