Choosing the right estate planning techniques is vital to making plans for your future. Mark S. Eghrari & Associates PLLC can provide you with assistance in understanding your options and in making informed choices as you protect yourself, your assets, and your family.
Estate planning is not just about determining what happens to your property after you pass away. You need to consider how to protect assets during your lifetime and you need to ensure that you have addressed end-of-life issues that could arise. There are a variety of estate planning tools and techniques that you can make use of to plan ahead for any situation that could occur as you get older. Our estate planning lawyer can guide you through choosing the tools that will work best to meet your needs.
While there is no substitute for working with an experienced attorney to create a personalized one-on-one plan, you may also want to learn about some of the top estate planning tools that you can use so you are able to get a better idea of what the planning process will entail. Ten top estate planning tools and techniques include:
- Advanced directives: Advanced directives involve making a living will and specifying who should act as your healthcare proxy. Advanced directives can give you the power to take control over medical decisions in case of an emergency. Your family won’t have to make a difficult decision about your care and you can weigh quality of life issues when deciding what kinds of medical care to accept or decline.
- Powers of attorney: You can create a general power of attorney to give a trusted agent the authority to manage your assets in case something should happen to you. You can also name a healthcare power of attorney so someone will have the authority to make any healthcare decisions you did not specify in advance. Creating a power of attorney means your family does not have to go through guardianship or conservatorship proceedings. It also means that you, and not a random judge, will determine who acts on your behalf if something happens to you.
- A last will and testament: A last will and testament allows you to control who will inherit assets. While a will does not provide you with the same level of control over an inheritance as a trust does, it is a simple and fundamental way to specify who you want to inherit your property. Many people who do not make a comprehensive estate plan will at least create a will so intestacy law does not end up determining who inherits assets.
- Revocable trusts: Revocable trusts can allow assets to transfer outside of probate. Although those assets will still be considered a part of a taxable estate, they will be able to transfer much more quickly through the trust administration process than the probate process. Revocable trusts are also helpful in cases of incapacity because the trustee can take over managing trust assets right away.
- Irrevocable trusts: Irrevocable trusts can provide more protection for assets held within the trust than an irrevocable trust does. However, you will have to give up substantial control over the assets that you transfer into an irrevocable trust if you want to benefit from the protections this type of trust provides for assets.
- Pay-on-death accounts: You can create pay-on-death accounts in order to allow the account assets to transfer automatically to a chosen beneficiary if something happens to you.
- Joint ownership: When you own property jointly with someone else, you can structure your ownership with rights of survivorship so that the property is automatically passed on to the co-owners of the property. This allows for the property to transfer outside of the probate process very quickly.
- Family limited partnerships: Family limited partnerships are useful for many reasons. They can enable gifts to other family members to help reduce estate tax by reducing the size of an estate. When the gifts are made though a family limited partnership, limited partners are protected, and assets that are transferred are protected from creditors.
- Inter vivos gifts: Inter vivos gifts are gifts that are made during the course of a person’s life. Strategic gifting while you are still alive can be a useful way of reducing the value of you taxable estate in order to reduce the amount of estate tax that is due upon death.
- Charitable foundations: Creating a charitable foundation allows you not only to give your own money to causes you believe in while maintaining a higher degree of control over how that money is spent, but it also gives you the opportunity to raise other money to support charitable causes. Charitable foundations can be a wonderful way to maximize tax breaks for charitable contributions and to make a difference in the world.
These are just some of many different estate planning techniques which could potentially be available to you. The right techniques to use for your plan are going to depend upon the specifics of your situation. Factors that will affect your planning process can include the value of your estate; the type of assets you own; your plans for who you want to inherit your property; and the specific types of risks that put your assets in jeopardy.
Mark S. Eghrari & Associates PLLC can provide assistance with the creation of a personalized estate plan using all of these tools and many others. Our legal team assists people at all phases of their life, with all different amounts of income and assets. We can help you to create an estate plan and to modify that plan as your life changes. At every step of the way, we will work to make the estate planning process simple and easy.
To find out more about the ways in which our firm will assist you with using estate planning techniques to protect your family and your assets, give us a call at (631) 265-0599 or contact us online today. You can also join us for a free seminar to find out more about the estate planning process.