Trusts and Estates
Prepare for the future and invest in an estate plan that protects your loved ones and distributes your estate the way you want. Invest in a custom estate plan that protects the future assets of your loved ones from creditors.
What is an estate plan?
Estate planning is the process of planning the distribution of your assets upon your death or incapacitation. With a powerful and effective estate plan, you can protect your estate so that it incurs the least amount of taxes as possible. Your estate plan essentially protects the assets that you will pass down to your heirs upon your death. You also have the comfort of knowing that your financial affairs are in order, so you won’t leave behind a lengthy and costly administrative nightmare for your loved ones.
What sort of assets are protected in an estate plan?
Your estate plan ensures that any business and personal assets stay in the possession of the asset-holder, and thus diminishes creditors’ access to the asset-holder’s property. Some examples of assets that can be protected include your home, your business, and your investments.
Now Law Firm Estate Planning Services
Custom Estate Plans
No estate plan is too small or too big for The Property Lawyer™. Whether you have a single asset or multiple assets to pass on to your loved ones, The Property Lawyer™ will put together a package that works best for you.
Asset protection involves various estate planning strategies, including whether to choose between a revocable or irrevocable trust. You may have certain assets that you’d like to protect against creditors during your lifetime or you may wish to protect the future assets of your loved ones from creditors. In such cases, The Property Lawyer™ will go over your various options to help you make a choice that fits your needs.
Simplified Explanations & Consultations in Plain English
In order to put together an estate planning package that fits your needs, you would need to understand the confusing legal jargon used in various estate planning documents. As such, The Property Lawyer™ will review your estate planning documents with you in plain English during both the initial and final consultations.
- Revocable Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Will Drafting
- Asset Protection
- Advanced Health Care Directives
- Power of Attorney
What is an estate?
All the money and property and even future business opportunities you own at the time of your death are a part of your estate.
What is an estate plan?
Why do I need an estate plan?
When should I start my estate planning?
What sort of assets are protected in an estate plan?
Who are my assets being protected from?
What is a beneficiary? Who can I name as a beneficiary?
What is a trust?
What is the difference between a trust and an estate plan?
Can estate plans be changed? Can I add more assets down the line?
What is a power of attorney?
A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that lets you appoint a person (attorney-in-fact or POA agent) or even an organization to manage your property and financial affairs as well as your medical directives on your behalf. The POA agent must have a sound mind and be eighteen years of age or older.
There are a variety of POAs that allot different levels of control: General, Special, Durable and Healthcare POAs. You may grant a POA without a lawyer, however it is best to consult with an attorney to determine the powers being granted. It must be noted that you may revoke a POA at any time.
What is a revocable trust?
A trust that allows provisions to be altered or canceled based on your wishes is a revocable trust. In such a trust, income earned on assets is given to you. This trust protects your assets during your lifetime as well as after your death. Upon your death the property transfers to the beneficiaries you assigned under the trust. Since a revocable trust lists one or more beneficiaries, the trust avoids probate. Another benefit of this trust is that you may make amendments, remove/add assets or terminate the trust during your lifetime.
A revocable trust provides income and flexibility; you may adjust the provisions of the trust and earn income while having the peace of mind knowing that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes and instructions upon death. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon the grantor’s death.
What is an irrevocable trust?
In comparison to a revocable trust, an irrevocable trust cannot be changed or terminated without the permission of the trust’s beneficiaries. So assets in such a trust cannot be removed without the beneficiaries’ consent since the grantor has effectively transferred their ownership of assets into the trust. By establishing this trust the grantor has legally removed all of their rights of ownership to the assets and the trust. An irrevocable trust can be “broken” (revoked) only by a judicial proceeding.
This trust is often suggested for clients that are vulnerable to lawsuits, such as doctors or attorneys because an irrevocable trust will not be a party to any lawsuit. It is also helpful because it removes the grantor’s tax liability on the income the assets generate. The assets can include — but are not limited to, a business — investment assets, cash, and life insurance policies.
What is Succession Planning or Replacement Planning?
One of biggest misconceptions is that succession planning and estate planning are one in the same. Succession planning (aka replacement planning) directly relates to the actual business itself. Whereas, estate planning relates to your ownership interest in the business. Succession planning is the process of identifying new leaders to replace the old ones. It involves strategizing who will lead the business after a company’s most important people move on to other opportunities, retire, or pass away. Succession planning often involves training the new leaders so that they develop the necessary skills and gain a global understanding of the company for when it is their time to replace the older leaders.
What happens to my business after I die? Is my business covered in my estate plan?
If you have a small business interest, such as a sole proprietorship, partnership, closely-held corporation, or LLC, you may be able to include your business in your estate plan. Assuming there are no transfer restrictions, you can designate certain beneficiaries in your estate plan to become involved in the business upon your death or disability. Note the subtle, yet important difference from succession planning (discussed above). Also, note that including your business into your estate plan involves a review of the articles of incorporation/organization or any partnership agreements in order to identify any transfer restrictions imposed by law or the agreements governing the business in addition to buy-out provisions.
Again, assuming there are no transfer restrictions imposed by law or agreements governing the business, you can strategize the disposition of your business interest to certain beneficiaries. In addition, there are certain tax issues which need to be considered when planning for the disposition of your business interest. Oftentimes the most successful planning occurs with the collaboration between your financial advisor and attorney.
Will my heirs owe taxes on my estate?
If you intend to leave all of your assets to your spouse, estate taxes aren’t an issue: You can leave an unlimited amount of money to your spouse tax-free. Otherwise, your estate will owe taxes only if its value – including real estate, life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts and investments – exceeds a certain threshold, known as the estate tax exemption.