What are some typical goals addressed by estate planning?

With so much information about estate planning available at the touch of a fingertip, individuals may wonder what information they can trust. Our estate planning law firm encourages individuals to start collecting and organizing documents in preparation of a consultation with an attorney. In addition, a little web-based research can help introduce individuals to the types of documents that an estate plan may include.

As background, it may be helpful to think of the goals of estate planning as addressing concerns about asset transfers, finances and health wishes. Asset transfers have traditionally been done upon an individual’s death via a will. However, transfers can also be done with trusts, both during and after a person’s lifetime. A living trust transfers property upon the individual’s death, whereas the principle of an irrevocable or revocable trust can be funded during an individual’s lifetime.

High-asset estates might benefit from an irrevocable trust, due to the tax savings of legally severing the grantor’s ownership interest in the transferred assets. The modification and flexibility offered by a revocable trust doesn’t provide tax savings during an individual’s lifetime, but still avoids the time, expense and privacy invasion of a probate proceeding upon the grantor’s death.

Estate planning can also address concerns about incapacity. An advance health-care directive is a document that clearly indicates the medical treatments that one might accept or refuse in the event of incapacity. A healthcare power of attorney provides even broader protection by designating an individual to make medical decisions on behalf of an incapacitated individual. In our next post, we continue the discussion about how retirement and estate planning can go hand-in-hand.

Source: Nerdwallet, “10 Keys to Proper Estate Planning,” Michael Chamberlain, March 11, 2016

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