What to Know About Estate Planning

Estate Planning DocumentsAs you or your loved ones get older it is important to begin to think about Estate Planning. Estate Planning includes topics such as:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Healthcare Powers of Attorney
  • Durable Powers of Attorney
  • Tax Planning
  • Social Security Planning

It is always best to hire an experienced attorney to assist with these important matters. However, it is also important to know what these various legal documents mean, and which may be right for you and your loved ones.

Will: A will (or Testament) is a legal document that expresses a person's final wishes. This can range from how they wish for their property to be dispersed to what they wish for their final resting place. The will can also name a person they wish to be in charge of making these decisions, and handling the property until it has been distributed to the specified party.

Trust: Trusts are a legal relationship in which the owner of specified property gives it to a another entity that then keeps the property and uses it solely for the third party's benefit. Many times trusts are ensured to an entity for a specified amount of time, or until the third party reaches a certain age. At that time, the property is entrusted to the third party it was specified for.

Healthcare Powers of Attorney: This is a document that allows an individual to appoint another person the power to make decisions about their medical care. The Healthcare Power of Attorney refers to both a legal document, as well as a specific person.

Durable Powers of Attorney: Allows for your chosen person to make medical choices for you, should you become incapacitated and unable to do so. This is different from a general Power of Attorney, which ends the moment you become incapacitated. If you have not chosen a Durable Power of Attorney, it may become necessary for your family to ask the court to appoint a guardian.

Tax Planning: Tax planning is the analysis and arrangement of a person's finances. The analysis helps to determine the best financial decisions to maximize tax breaks and minimize any tax liabilities in a legal and useful aspect.

Social Security Planning: This takes into consideration various scenarios, such as:

  • When you start receiving benefits?
  • Are you still working?
  • Life expectancy?
  • Do you still have healthcare?
  • Eligibility for someone else's benefits?
  • Other income, if you decide to delay benefits?
  • Do other family members qualify for your benefits?

It is important to talk to a professional when beginning your estate planning. It is also important to speak with your family members and discuss your wants and intents with them. Contact our team of experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorneys for any questions or if you are ready to begin your Estate Planning journey.