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Estate Planning

Everyone should have an estate plan in place regardless of your worth. Estate planning is merely the process at death of transferring your assets to the people or entities you desire, when you desire, and in the way you desire. A good estate plan will take into account state and federal income taxes, estate taxes (if applicable) and avoid unnecessary taxes, penalties and legal fees, which often occur when no plan is in place.

Everyone of legal age should begin their estate plan by executing three essential documents; a Will, a Power of Attorney and a Health Care Directive. While there are many do-it- yourself computer programs or fill-in- the-blank forms, we encourage to seek out professional help in this area. If you get this simple step wrong, there are no second chances! Consider hiring an estate planning attorney. Work with someone who deals with estate planning on a continual basis rather than a general practitioner or what we call, a jack of all trades. An estate planning attorney may cost more but their experience could save you or your heirs thousands of dollars and untold headaches.

Many of your assets can be passed to your beneficiaries without the use of a will and without the unnecessary costs and delays of probate. Common methods include naming beneficiaries on all of your financial accounts. Many States allow you to add a beneficiary designation (Transfer on Death Deed “TODD”) on your home, keeping that asset out of probate as well. Common terms used to transfer your assets at death include Transfer on Death “TOD” or Payable on Death “POD” designations. A knowledgeable financial advisor can walk you through this process and work with your estate planning attorney to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Trusts are often used to provide you with control of your assets from beyond the grave. Assets placed into a trust while living or at death can be passed from generation to generation, protected from creditors, predators and beneficiaries who may not act in a financially sound manner. If you have a disabled or handicapped child, a Special Needs Trust should be discussed with your attorney.

If you would like more information on estate planning or any of our other services, please give us a call or submit your question using the link below. We offer a one-hour consultation at no charge to get you started on the right foot.

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