Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Effective Estate Planning Protects Your Assets

An estate plan is something you should have in place at all stages of your adult life so that your wishes regarding the transfer of property to your heirs, appointment of guardians of your children (should that become necessary) and other issues (such as burial and funeral preferences) are honored and conducted as smoothly as possible.

As life proceeds and things change, periodically evaluating and updating your estate plan is important. This is especially true when you marry, start a business, have children, plan for retirement, and during divorce – anytime changes to beneficiaries and mechanisms for your providing your legacy to your heirs is necessary.

Divorce does not automatically nullify estate plans that were in place during a marriage for decisions regarding your health and finances should you become incapacitated. In addition to more traditional estate planning, I work with divorcing clients to create new estate plans in a simple, straightforward manner, making things as simple as possible in an otherwise frustrating atmosphere.

Remarriage can also affect your estate plan. The decision to remarry after a divorce can have a significant impact on your ability to leave property to or for the benefit of your children. For example, the absence of a properly drafted premarital agreement may prevent you from leaving most or all of your estate to your children from a prior marriage because your new spouse may be legally entitled to receive a significant share of the property under state law. We help ensure these matters are considered during our estate planning process.

My goal is for you to have a solid understanding of estate planning concepts so that you can make appropriate decisions for you and your family. The most typical estate planning documents each person’s estate plan might consist of:

  • A Will: A Last Will and Testament declares your wishes on property distribution, creates a trust for distribution of assets to minor children by a trustee, names executors and trustees, nominates guardians (if necessary) and specifies your wishes on burial, cremation and funeral expenses.
  • A General Durable Power of Attorney for making business decisions: A Financial Power of Attorney (also called a Durable Power of Attorney) allows someone you choose to manage your accounts and property if you become unable to handle your own affairs.
  • A Health Care Power of Attorney for making medical decisions: In a Healthcare Power Of Attorney, you appoint someone to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Your Living Will indicates your wishes regarding life support, continued nutrition, etc.
  • A Declaration of Desire For a Natural Death (also known as a “Living Will”)
  • and sometimes a Trust, which can take many forms.

Other documents to be reviewed and updated during any transition might include your:

  • beneficiary designations for individual retirement accounts
  • 401(k) and other retirement plans
  • annuities
  • health savings accounts, and
  • bank and brokerage accounts.

Beneficiary designations for life insurance are often not governed by divorce or remarriage and should be reviewed periodically as well. When issues arise or assets need adjustment, we will review and re-title any assets necessary to protect your interests during these transitions.

Moving forward with an estate plan is a simple but thoughtful process. David Franklin can help make sure your plan is succinct and the process painless. Contact David to start your planning process today.