Comprehensive estate planning establishes who will receive your assets after your death, and when and how the transfer of those assets will occur. The timing and nature of these “distributions” may be influenced by a number of issues, including (but not limited to):
- The ages of the beneficiaries;
- The fiscal maturity of the beneficiaries (or lack thereof);
- The stability (or instability) of the beneficiaries’ marriages;
- The disabilities of any beneficiaries; and
- The need for a beneficiary to have protection from their own creditors.
Additionally, comprehensive estate planning provides for yourself and your loved ones, in the event you become mentally incapacitated. It answers questions such as:
- Who will make the determination of whether or not you are “mentally incapacitated?”
- Who will make financial and legal decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself?
- Who will make your health care decisions under such circumstances?
- Who will have access to your protected medical records, so that they can make sound medical decisions for you?
In its simplest terms, comprehensive estate planning is planning for your family’s future. Surveys show that seventy percent of all Americans have done no estate planning. For this reason, it is imperative that we educate people about their estate planning options. Our job is to teach you about the law; your job is to teach us about your family and your assets. Together, we can create and implement an estate plan that protects and provides for you and your family. Estate planning must be flexible enough to deal with life’s changes—whether those changes are personal (e.g., the ability to change or add fiduciaries and/or beneficiaries), or whether they are prompted by external circumstances (i.e., changes in the law).
Finally, comprehensive estate planning should minimize or eliminate taxes and other expenses (such as attorney’s fees relating to probate, court costs, appraisal fees, etc.), while making final distributions to beneficiaries as quickly as possible and maintaining your family’s privacy.