Douglas M. Buchanan Attorney at Law is here to assist you with crucial actions, such as validating your will and trust documents, choosing a suitable executor, helping you avoid excessive taxation, and aligning your will with all legal requirements.
First, let’s take a moment to go over the basic concepts involved in estate planning, such as:
What Is A Trust?
A trust is a written document that lets a property owner (known as the “donor”) assign one person (called a “trustee”) the legal title to property intended for another person (known as the “beneficiary”). With the help of an experienced estate attorney, you can specify the terms of your trust precisely, controlling when and how distributions may be made. Depending on your specific needs, a trust can be a useful estate planning tool that allows you to maintain greater control over how your financial assets are allocated—and you also will likely minimize costly taxes as well.
What Is A Will?
A will is a written document that articulates your wishes regarding how your assets will be distributed after you pass on. It lets you dictate who will inherit your assets, how much they will each receive, and who will be in charge of distributing your assets according to your wishes. You can also use your will to name a guardian for your minor child.
Along with your will, you should also create durable powers of attorney for both your financial and medical decisions in case you become unable to manage your own affairs. Designating trusted individuals to ensure that your wishes are upheld in the event that you become incapacitated will help alleviate confusion, stress, and unnecessary disputes among your loved ones.
What Is A Living Trust?
As a donor, you can form a living trust during your lifetime and take on the role of the trustee in order to control access to the property until you pass on. A living trust has many benefits: it provides orderly distribution of your property; it can be flexible enough for you to change at any point in your lifetime; and it can help your heirs avoid probate (which can be expensive, confusing and time-consuming). If you want to learn more about how a living trust can support your estate planning goals, I will happily walk you through your options and empower you to make the best decision for you and your family.
What Is A Special Needs Trust?
A special needs trust enables you leave money or property to a loved one with a disability in a way that lets them continue to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid benefits. With a special needs trust, you assign a trustee to retain complete control over spending funds on your disabled loved one’s behalf instead of distributing those funds directly. In this way, your loved one remains eligible for SSI and Medicaid benefits while being able to have a wide variety of goods and services provided to them.
Other Estate Planning Options
If you’re married with a large estate (worth over eleven million dollars), you should think about taking steps that can protect your heirs from excessive tax liabilities when they receive their inheritance. For example, you can establish a credit shelter trust (also know as an “A/B trust” or “bypass trust”) or a Family Limited Trust in order to eliminate or reduce federal estate taxes.
If you’re unmarried, you might choose to take advantage of options like a life insurance trust to protect the proceeds of your policy from estate taxes, or create a gifting program. Whatever your specific estate planning goals may be, I will work with you to understand your unique needs and prepare all the necessary documents to address your wishes. Because I understand that your will or trust is central to your estate plan, I will collaborate with you to fully understand your financial and family situation in order to create a successful legacy strategy.