Estate planning is the execution and use of certain legal documents to plan for and control the protection and distribution of a person’s property after the person’s death. A person’s wishes for his or her property were traditionally contained in a document called a will (or “last will and testament”), but today a will may be complemented or replaced by a host of additional tools like a “living trust,” a “transfer on death” deed and other “pay on death” arrangements. Estate planning also includes end-of-life planning, which uses another set of documents, called “advanced directives” to ensure your personal, financial, and health care decisions can be carried out when you are no longer able to take care of your own affairs or express your own wishes. Here are some things you should know when hiring an estate or end-of-life planning attorney:
- There is no “best” or “one size fits all” approach to estate planning. This is why an attorney is often crucial to the process.
- The complexity of your estate plan will vary according to the complexity of your assets, both now and as they are expected to grow into the future.
- Even if you already have a will, trust, transfer-on-death deed, or other estate arrangement, you should review it periodically with an attorney to ensure it will still help you meet your estate planning goals.
- Sometimes, the wrong (or poorly-drafted) estate planning arrangement can lead to more cost and effort on the part of your loved ones than having no estate plan at all.
- Tax planning is an important part of estate planning, but usually only for very large estates, In 2014, an estate worth less than $5,340,000 at death is not subject to estate taxation in most cases.
You should speak with an attorney to determine what type of estate plan is right for you and your family, including your loved ones with special needs or who receive certain government benefits. Joe Gorman has experience with all the principal types of estate planning vehicles, including “Special Needs Trusts,” that can help to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are carried out when you can no longer make your wishes known.