Estate Planning 

Wills, Trusts, Probate and Making Sure Your Assets Go Where You’d Like

The mention of “writing a will” or “working through an estate plan” can make many people feel overwhelmed.  However, estate planning is really just a set of tools that will help you minimize your tax liability and ensure that your assets go to whom you’d like, at the time you designate, and under circumstances that you can arrange.  A proper estate plan protects your family from unnecessary work and potential disputes by taking care of things now so that you are prepared for any unexpected events.

Aren’t Wills only for the Ultra Rich? 

A will is the framework of your estate plan; it can be very complex or very simple.  Phrases like “the reading of the will” or “he’s been taken out of the will” conjure imagery of billionaire families from television programs and movies.  The fact is, just about everyone should have a will; many people will only require a very basic will, but for instance, if you have children, and would like to make a plan for who would be responsible in the event that you passed away or could no longer take care of them, that is something that a will can do.  If you have a vacation home or piece of property that you’d like to keep in the family, you can designate that in your will and then set up a trust to ensure that the taxes, maintenance or other costs are taken care of.  

Ultimately, a will is a set of instructions that should be followed when you are unable to make your wishes known.  Some of the instructions that are included in your will may include: 

  • Designating key family members or loved ones as the people in charge of your finances or health care decisions.
  • Designating guardianship (who will take care of them) for any minor children
  • Designating how your heirs will receive funds (for example, when they reach a certain age, or after they’ve graduated college, etc)
  • Designating who will receive your personal and any real property you own.

A will an also help you prepare for unforeseen issues or help make arrangements to handle matters that you may not want to leave to your children or the courts to settle like: 

  • Preparing for any physical or mental incapacity during your lifetime
  • Avoiding a complex Probate process
  • Minimizing estate taxes

What is Probate?  What are Letters of Testamentary?

Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies.  The process aims to resolve any claims anyone may have against the deceased person and distribute their property as directed in the will.  The probate process produces “letters of testamentary”.  Letters of testamentary and a valid death certificate are both required for the executor of the estate to access bank accounts and control other assets of the deceased. 

Estate Planning Questions?  Call Today

We look forward to answering your estate planning questions and helping you develop a plan that fits your priorities and your family’s needs.