An Estate Planning & Elder Law Practice
No matter what your elder law or estate planning goals are, we will work with you to make sure they are achieved. As your advisor and partner, we will meet with you, outline your goals, draft your documents and help you execute your plan. Contact us today to discuss your estate planning and elder law issues.
If you have any questions after the plan is in place, we are only a phone call, email or office visit away. In addition, if you sign up for our monthly newsletter, we will provide you with news updates, advice and tips regarding elder law and estate planning issues. Contact us today to discuss your estate planning and elder law issues.
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Amenta Law Firm
An Estate Planning & Elder Law Practice
Estate Planning Questions and Answers
Amenta Law Firm
What Will Be Your Legacy?
Create peace of mind with a plan that secures your legacy, preserves hard earned assets and passes them on to the ones you love.
One of the most important decisions you can make is to plan your estate. No matter how large or small your estate may be, creating an estate plan is the smart and responsible thing to do. There may be no better way to create peace of mind for you and your family then to plan for the future.
What should be in an Estate Plan
An estate plan should include the following documents: a will, trust, healthcare power of attorney, financial power of attorney and a living will. In addition to estate planning documents there are a number of strategies that can and should be used to achieve your estate planning goals. For example the use of POD bank account designations, life insurance policies, proper beneficiary designations on beneficiary designation accounts, the use of gifts and joint ownershipan You can also include instructions for passing your values (religion, education, hard work, etc.) in addition to your valuables.
Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
Name a guardian and an inheritance manager for minor children.
Provide for family members with special needs without disrupting government benefits.
Provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.
Include life insurance to provide for your family at your death, disability income insurance to replace your income if you cannot work due to illness or injury, and long-term care insurance to help pay for your care in case of an extended illness or injury.
Provide for the transfer of your business at your retirement, disability, or death.
Minimize taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees.
Be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations (and laws) change over your lifetime.
Estate planning is for everyone
It is not just for “retired” people, although people do tend to think about it more as they get older. Unfortunately, we can’t successfully predict how long we will live, and illness and accidents happen to people of all ages.
Estate planning is not just for “the wealthy,” either, although people who have built some wealth do often think more about how to preserve it. Good estate planning often means more to families with modest assets, because they can afford to lose the least.
Too many people don’t plan
Individuals put off estate planning because they think they don’t own enough, they’re not old enough, they’re busy, think they have plenty of time, they’re confused and don’t know who can help them, or they just don’t want to think about it. Then, when something happens to them, their families have to pick up the pieces.
If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you, but you probably won’t like it.
At disability: If your name is on the title of your assets and you can’t conduct business due to mental or physical incapacity, only a court appointee can sign for you. The court, not your family, will control how your assets are used to care for you through a conservatorship or guardianship (depending on the term used in your state). It can become expensive and time consuming, it is open to the public, and it can be difficult to end even if you recover.
At your death: If you die without an intentional estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. In many states, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate, which may not be enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die (i.e., in a car accident), the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.
Given the choice—and you do have the choice—wouldn’t you prefer these matters be handled privately by your family, not by the courts? Wouldn’t you prefer to keep control of who receives what and when? And, if you have young children, wouldn’t you prefer to have a say in who will raise them if you can’t?
Estate planning does not have to be expensive.
If you don’t think you can afford a complex estate plan now, start with what you can afford. For a young family or single adult, that may mean a will, term life insurance, and powers of attorney for your assets and health care decisions. Then, let your planning develop and expand as your needs change and your financial situation improves. Don’t try to do this yourself to save money. An experienced attorney will be able to provide critical guidance and peace of mind that your documents are prepared properly.
I use a five step approach to estate planning. The first step is to know the law. The second step is to take an accounting of all your assets. The third step is to list all of the people you want to appoint as fiduciaries and name as beneficiaries. The fourth step is to define your estate planning goals. After completing those four steps, we can move to step five, which is to implement the proper methods, strategies and draft the proper documents that will achieve your estate planning goals.
If you or a family member is seeking advice, assistance or representation regarding an elder law or estate planning issue please call, text or email us today to set up a free consultation.
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