Estate Planning

 

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Why do I need estate planning?

Estate planning allows you to maximize your goals as an estate owner.

  • With estate planning, you are assured that the greatest amount of the estate passes to your intended beneficiaries, by paying the least amount of taxes.
  • Estate planning helps avoid or minimize the probate involvement.
  • Estate planning allows you to plan for possible mental or physical incapacity. This planning is especially important for single people. Living will and durable healthcare power of attorney enable you to decide about life support and pick someone to make decisions for you about medical treatment.
  • Estate planning can help ease the strain on your family as you can plan for your own funeral arrangements when planning your estate.

What is estate planning?
Estate planning is the process of accumulating and disposing of an estate so that the purposes of the estate owner are served in the best possible manner. Estate planning aims at ensuring that the assets are distributed as the owner would like them to be in the event of his or her death. An “estate” consists of all property owned by the person at the time of his or her death, including:

 

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and other securities
  • Life insurance policies
  • Personal property such as automobiles, jewelry, and artwork

What are the estate planning tools?
The tools for estate planning include the will, various types of trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, various forms of property ownership, gifting, and powers of attorney, particularly the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney.

The advice of estate planning attorneys can be used to create a living will. Keep in mind that a living will and a durable medical power of attorney are not the same. The former controls solely those decisions that must be made at the end of the patient’s life, while the latter is used to give decision-making authority to someone else. This person, the attorney-in-fact, then makes all medical decisions leading up to the person’s death, but has no such power to make end of life decisions for the patient. These decisions are made by the patient in the living will. In the absence of a living will or if the patient is incapable of making end-of-life decisions, such choices are left to the family members.