Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during and many times, at the end of a person’s life. Estate planning attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in the event of incapacity.
Estate planning involves Living Wills and Last Wills, Trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of attorney, property ownership with rights of survivorship, and other considerations.
A Living Will, also known as an Advance Health Care Directive, is a legal document in which you specify what actions should be taken for your health in the event you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself due to illness or incapacity. It ensures that your wishes are heard and also protects your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions on your behalf.
A Living Will can be general in nature and can include instructions for medical directives, medical treatment, and specify a Power of Attorney. A Living Will can also be very specific and include everything from preference for pain relief to life sustaining measures.
A Last Will (or Last Will and Testament) is a legal document that delineates your wishes regarding the distribution of your property, beneficiaries, and the care of any minor children. A will can give you sole discretion over how your assets are distributed. In the absence of a will or trust, an individual will be considered “intestate” at death and his or her property will be distributed pursuant to standard statutory schemes.
A Trust is a legal agreement whereby property is held by one party for the benefit of another. Property in a Living Trust is not subject to probate, which can be expensive and tie up an estate for months. A trust can be highly customizable depending on the Grantor’s needs and can be individual or joint, revocable or irrevocable, living or testamentary – after discussing your needs and goals, an attorney can help you create a trust that is aligned with your intentions.
Each situation is unique and so is each family. Come in for a consultation so we may discuss your wishes to help you plan the best path for the future. To set up an appointment, call our office at 310-481-0300.