Estate planning involves the creation of legal arrangements to preserve and protect your assets during life, and to pass your assets to your intended beneficiaries in an effective and efficient manner after death. Typically, a client’s estate plan will include the following:
- A revocable or “living” trust to manage property during the client’s lifetime and pass property outside of the probate process after death;
- A pour-over Will to direct probate assets to the trust upon death;
- A general durable power of attorney to provide for the management of the client’s finances upon incapacity; and
- An advance medical directive to appoint an agent for health care decisions and to express the client’s end-of-life wishes.
Depending on the client’s circumstances and objectives, an estate plan may also involve the creation and funding of one or more irrevocable trusts (such as trusts to receive significant lifetime gifts or trusts to hold life insurance policies); a special needs trust if a beneficiary is disabled; and charitable trusts if a client has significant philanthropic objectives. For a business owner, estate planning should also include planning for transition of the ownership and management of the business.
As part of the estate plan, it is important not to overlook assets passing by beneficiary designation – such as retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and annuities – and to make sure the beneficiary designations are aligned with the rest of the plan. It is also important to review the titling of real property to ensure title can be transferred in the intended manner and as efficiently as possible.
I concentrate my law practice on planning for the transfer of family wealth and the design and implementation of tax-advantaged asset transfers. I also help clients establish and administer closely-held business and real estate entities, such as corporations and limited liability companies.