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Estate Planning is the process of reviewing and analyzing a person’s and/or family’s property, family situation, estate tax exposure, and wishes and devising a plan of action to protect the person and/or family with a comprehensive set of documents and suggestions. This review and planning is necessary for the attorney to draft the appropriate documents and it should be conducted regardless of how wealthy you are.

During the review, all assets need to be looked at to know the value of the estate for estate tax purposes and the titling of assets for probate and any tax planning.  Certain specific assets, such as family owned businesses and S-Corp shares, require special planning and must be identified.  Additionally, a competent planner will look at a person’s insurance to see if there is too much or not enough and can make suggestions as to beneficiary designations and ownership of policies. Family structure will also be analyzed as to the needs of spouses and children, second or later marriages, children by different marriages, domestic partners, same-sex marriage, minor children, special needs, complicated situations with relatives, and other such issues.

Once all facts have been gathered and difficult issues identified, the estate planning attorney will work with the client to identify what the client wants to have happen at death or incapacity.  From there, the estate planning attorney will suggest a set of documents with certain provisions designed to accomplish the client’s goals.

A comprehensive estate plan will include a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney (controls property), a Health Care Advance Directive (controls health care decisions), and a Living Will (when to pull the plug).  A plan may also include a Revocable Living Trust, as well as irrevocable trusts depending on the client’s situation and goals.

Estate planning is for everyone, not just the wealthy.  By having a proper analysis done of your entire situation, documents can then be drafted to fit your goals and protect you and your family in case of your death or incapacity.  Protect yourself and your family by meeting with an estate planning attorney as soon as possible.  Do not wait until there is a scare in your family to take action, because it may be too late.  Talk with us today!