Estate planning ensures that in the case of your incapacity or death, your personal matters and finances are handled the way you wish. Careful planning has brought you to where you are now financially and with continued careful planning, your finances will be handled in accordance with your objectives after you’re gone.
Throughout all the steps of the process, Lacy Katzen estate planning attorneys will assist you. We will help you plan for the future; from the planning stage before death or disability occurs, all the way through managing assets in the event of disability, to handling disputes that may arise, and to administering the estate or trust upon death or other events that require careful attention and thoughtful solutions.
If your estate plan is not well conceived and up to date:
- Property can pass to the wrong beneficiaries.
- Property can pass in unsuitable form; such as, directly to a minor or disabled child who is unable to manage the funds. The gift may result in your beneficiary being disqualified from governmental benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI).
- Assets may be exhausted to pay for long-term-care costs and other expenses.
- The estate can be subject to unnecessarily high estate, gift and income taxes and other costs.
- Expensive lawsuits may result, concerning issues such as who will manage your assets and how the estate will be handled and distributed.
- Lack of liquidity may force the sale of the business or related business assets, such as the real estate used in the business.
Our estate planning attorneys will work with you to develop a comprehensive estate plan by identifying your objectives, reviewing and understanding your assets, income and family circumstances. The estate plan created will insure that your assets are managed and protected in the most suitable way for you and your intended beneficiaries. Outlined are some of the considerations and matters our estate planning attorneys address as part the comprehensive plan created for each of our clients:
- Review the ownership and nature of your assets. We normally forward an Estate Planning Questionnaire for you to complete, which includes an itemization of your assets. As part of the estate plan, we will make recommendations to you regarding restructuring of assets, changing beneficiary designations on your life insurance, IRAs and retirement plans to coordinate with your will and other estate planning documents, and to ensure your estate plan will work as designed.
- Prepare an estate tax analysis that includes a projection on estate taxes payable on each death given your current estate plan. Our attorneys will outline several options to minimize estate and gift taxes within your objectives.
- Review unique concerns of the closely held business, including business succession, liquidity, development of up to date and effective buy-sell and other owner agreements
- Develop and implement a plan for charitable giving.
- Design a plan for funding college and higher education.
- Determine and provide solutions to address special problems. These may include second marriages, disabled or special-needs children, cash and liquidity problems or long-term-care issues.
- Determine whom property should pass to and in what form, whether directly to a beneficiary or in a trust.
- Protect assets from potential liabilities.
Our estate planning attorneys also prepare wills and other planning instruments, such as:
- Durable Powers of Attorney – To provide for continued management of assets, particularly in the event of disability.
- Health Care Proxies and Living Wills – To name someone to make healthcare decisions in the event you are unable to do so. The living will is a declaration of your intentions regarding continued life support in the event physicians have determined there is no expectation of your recovery.
- Revocable Living Trusts – To avoid probate, establish an asset investment and management vehicle, and protect your privacy.
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts – To save estate taxes.
- Buy-Sell Agreements and Other Owner Agreements – To provide clear and unambiguous direction in the event of death, disability or other transition events affecting an owner; to establish a value and market for the business and a mechanism for payment, allowing for business continuation by remaining owners or designated successors.
- Pre-Nuptial or Marital Agreements—To ensure estate plan and business agreements operate as designed and written, and are not subject to override later under state or federal laws concerning marital rights.
- Beneficiary Designations of IRAs and Retirement Plans – To ensure these assets pass in accordance with planning goals and to achieve tax objectives.