If you read our law firm’s articles on a regular basis, you likely have gained a basic understanding of estate planning and the documents that make up an estate plan. During this unprecedented time, we also hope that we have conveyed the message that now more than ever it’s important to complete your estate plan. In this article and in a second article to run in a few weeks, I’ll be addressing the process of estate planning and discussing how each component of an estate plan works with the other parts.
Estate planning is multifaceted and requires multiple steps to complete. It may feel like putting a puzzle together. While no particular step is difficult, it’s very important that all steps are completed. It’s also important to bring your team of advisors – your attorney, CPA or tax advisor, financial planner, and insurance agent – into the process. This is not the place to complete a ‘do-it-yourself’ plan. By working with your whole team, you can create a comprehensive plan that works for you and your family – one that meets your needs and accomplishes your goals.
The first step involved in completing an estate plan is to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what type of estate plan is right for you. At an initial meeting, you will be discussing many subjects. These include your family members and relationships; real estate, financial, and other assets; health or medical concerns; probate; the distribution of assets at the time of your death; potential estate tax and other tax liabilities; charitable giving; life and other types of insurance; and any other issues unique to your situation.
Our firm has worked with clients who own property in two different states or outside of the U.S.; own mineral rights; or timeshares. Taking a complete inventory of assets is key. Other issues include second marriages, blended families, special needs, potential MA/EW needs. Some clients face state or federal estate tax liability. Many of us own our own businesses which gives rise to other considerations such as succession, buy-sell terms, and authorizations. The list goes on. Each of our situations is unique and multifaceted.
So, the first step is to talk over all of these subjects and issues and then decide what type of plan to put in place, generally either a Will Plan or a Trust Plan. The next step is to draft and sign the documents that make up your estate plan, and, generally, these include a Health Care Directive, Power-of-Attorney, Will, and a Trust. There are also supporting documents, and these include assignments, certificates, deeds to address title to real estate and real estate interests, and beneficiary designation forms.
A good estate planning attorney and your advisors can help you put a tailored estate plan in place that’s right for you – they can help you complete all the steps necessary to complete the multifaceted puzzle that creates your estate plan – one that gives you peace of mind and ease of administration for your family.
As we have communicated in earlier articles, Breen and Person, Ltd. is open and here to serve you in Brainerd, Crosslake, Walker and Longville. We are revising and adapting our processes to accommodate our clients and help keep our clients and staff safe. Many appointments are happening via phone conference and on video calls. We have even had some curb-side document signings. Estate planning is important for everyone to do at all stages of life, and we are working hard to make sure those who want to get it done now can do so.
Any requests for topic suggestions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know. Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.