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Estate Planning

Essential Purposes of Estate Planning

It is neither difficult, expensive, nor time consuming to protect your assets and your family’s future with an estate plan

There are three essential purposes to any estate plan. The minimization of taxes, avoidance of potential creditors, and the conveyance of your property (real or personal) when you pass away. These three purposes are accomplished through the strategic use of Wills and Trusts.

Wills and Trusts

Estate planning starts with a Will. The Will is a legal document which transfers your property, upon your death, to your beneficiaries in the manner you decide. However, a Will needs to go through Probate, a long, public and expensive process through the court system. The key to avoiding probate is careful attention to estate planning. As your attorney, I can work closely with your accountant or financial advisor to determine what estate planning instruments are appropriate for your situation. The most important strategy for avoiding the public probate administration is creating a Trust.

A Trust is a document that conveys your property into the Trust, which then holds and administers your property, per your desires. A Trust can also help protect your property from any potential creditors.

There are also several key documents that every Estate Plan needs. Because the documents are so important, we also provide these documents as a separate service, at a reduced price. They are the Durable Power of Attorney, that enables a named person to make financial decisions for you; a Healthcare Surrogate or Healthcare Power of Attorney, that enables a named person to make healthcare related decisions for you; a HIPPA release, so that a named person, usually a close family member, can speak with your medical providers; a Living Will, that clearly states your intention regarding life support. These documents are critical to have for everyone, regardless of your financial strength.

Many single or married people need only a simple will, living will, and durable power of attorney to complete their estate plan. Together we will evaluate your goals and resources, consult with your CPA or financial planner, and help you determine whether the modest investment in a trust is appropriate in your situation.

Durable Power of Attorney

The Durable Power of Attorney allows a person that you appoint, to act and make decisions financially as if they are you. The Durable Power of Attorney “kicks in” when it is signed. Meaning, the Grantee (the person giving the power), does not need to be incapacitated before the Power of Attorney becomes effective.

Because the power is so strong, it is highly recommended to grant the power only to someone who will act responsibly and in the best interest of the Grantee. Our power of attorney is also designed for the Grantee to apply for government benefits such as Medicaid, Social Security, and VA.

The Power of Attorney ceases, or becomes null and void, by either one of the following scenarios: (1) the Grantee passes away; (2) the Grantee signs a revocation of power; or (3) a new Power of Attorney is signed.

Healthcare Surrogate

The Healthcare Surrogate, or Healthcare Power of Attorney, enables the person you appoint to make healthcare decisions for you when you are not able to. For instance, if you end up at the intensive care unit at the hospital, you would be unable to make your own healthcare decisions. Without this document in place, the hospital staff and doctors would make those decisions for you.

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