Simply stated, estate planning is a process designed to help manage and preserve your assets while you are alive and to control their distribution after your death. This should be done according to your goals, objectives, and the legacy you choose to leave for the next generation. Your specific plan depends on a number of factors such as your age, marital status, health, wealth, lifestyle, and family dynamics. Further, depending on the size of your estate, establishing a trust can be an effective tool in minimizing the impact of federal estate taxes.
At Total Wealth Planning we work closely with you and your attorney to help guide you through the process. A good estate plan may be worthless if assets are not appropriately titled or beneficiaries are not listed correctly to coordinate with your estate planning documents. We help with instructions from your estate planning attorney, ensuring your estate plan is implemented properly.
Regardless of a current estate’s size, there should be a minimum set of standard documents: a will, a durable power of attorney, advanced medical directives, and living trust.
A will is a legal document that details the distribution of your assets and who will oversee the will’s execution. It may also state who is to care for your minor children. Without a will, the laws of the state will dictate the disbursements. Without a proper will, your ultimate wishes may not be carried out, and your estate could end up paying more in taxes and legal fees than necessary.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney allows you to designate a representative. It may be your spouse or adult child, to perform certain actions for you, should you become unable to manage your affairs. This representative could, for example, pay bills or make major financial decisions on your behalf, depending on how broad or narrow you limit the powers. Without a power of attorney, your spouse or other loved ones would have to go through the hassle and expense of requesting court approval to carry out needed financial transactions.
Click here to learn more about Advanced Medical Directives and Trusts.