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Estate and Legacy Planning

Estate planning should focus on your values and reflect what matters most to you. It should provide the legal mechanism for distributing property upon death in a way that recognizes your wishes and the needs of your survivors. It can also involve planning for the handling of affairs in case of disability, incapacity, and the deeply personal medical choices to be made as life nears its end.  It includes reducing or eliminating uncertainty over administration of probate; minimizing gift, estate, generation skipping transfer, and income tax; and maximizing the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. 

Estate planning is determined by your specific goals and may be as simple or complex as your needs dictate.  Here are ways we can assist you:

  • Provide order to your financial affairs
  • Discuss your goals for the disposition of assets
  • Plan for subsequent generations and charities to benefit from your legacy
  • Review the titling of your assets
  • Review beneficiary designations for assets that will pass outside of probate
  • Analyze tax planning strategies
  • Assess strategies to simplify estate settlement
  • Assist you with coordination of your financial plan with other advisors

It is our goal to help you protect your legacy and transfer assets effectively and efficiently. 

Here is a simplified checklist to initiate estate planning:

Will – instructions that state who you want to inherit your property.  It will name an executor, the person you choose to administer your property after you die, and name a guardian to care for minor children in the event something happens to both parents.

Trust – This is an optional structure to manage your affairs in the event of incapacity and/or hold property to avoid probate.

Health Care Directives – If you are unable to make health care decisions for yourself a health care declaration also known as a living will indicates your wishes for medical care and a Health Care Power of Attorney designates one(s) to make care decisions if you cannot.  In some states, these documents are combined into one document called an Advanced Health Care Directive. 

Financial Power of Attorney – you give a trusted person authority to handle your finances and property if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions.  The person you name is your agent or attorney-in-fact (the person does not have to be a lawyer or attorney).

Final Arrangements – make your end of life wishes known regarding organ donation, disposition (burial or cremation) and funeral arrangements.  You should name a person to manage money and property that your minor children inherit from you. 

Beneficiary forms – for accounts that allow a beneficiary designation, these assets are payable on death and pass outside of probate despite any provision made in your Will.  It is critical to regularly review beneficiary designations and keep account designations up to date.   

Life Insurance – Ownership and beneficiary designations have critical estate implications and should be reviewed regularly. 

Succession Plan - if you own a business, instructions for an orderly disposition.  Or if you own a business with others, a buyout agreement.  

Document Storage - keep your important papers organized, known and accessible to your Attorney-in-fact and/or your executor including information on personal property:

  • Record digital assets, passwords and instructions
  • Inventory personal valuables
  • Record all business interests
  • Record investment accounts, titling and beneficiaries
  • Record safe deposit boxes, locations and access
  • Record all rental real estate properties – titling; financing; partnership agreements; and property manager contact information
  • Record all frequent flier memberships, access and passwords
  • Record vehicles – titling and financing
  • Record personal residences – titling and financing
  • Record timeshare ownership – titling and financing
  • Inventory all collectibles with appraisals and insurance coverage
  • Record all storage units including inventory and access