Financial Peace of Mind

Estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney

Protect Your Loved Ones

Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Maybe you are young. Maybe you don’t yet have a lot of assets. You might think you don’t need an “estate plan.”

But, everyone has an “estate.”  Every adult– and especially people with children– should have an estate plan.

A good estate plan helps distribute your assets. But, it also controls what happens if you become ill or incapacitated. 

Planning is an Act of Love

Customized Estate Planning Services

What's the difference between a will and an estate plan?

We are often asked “What’s the difference between a will and an estate plan?”

The short answer is a will can be part of an overall estate plan–  but it is only one part.

In addition to ensuring that your assets are transferred to your heirs upon your death, a successful estate plan also allows your family members to manage your assets if you become incapacitated.

An estate plan also helps ensure that your wishes for guardianship of your children, your funeral arrangements, your healthcare decisions, and other life issues are respected and carried out. 

Our estate plans are customized to your situation and your wishes. We understand that no two individuals are alike. We will take a personal approach and let you know the best options available for you.

Although every situation is different, a good estate plan will include certain components.

Every estate plan should include:

  1. Letter of Intent
  2. Will/trust
  3. Durable power of attorney
  4. Healthcare power of attorney
  5. Beneficiary designations
  6. Guardianship designations for minor children
  7. Updated beneficiary designations for individual assets to be consistent with will/trust
  8. Insurance coverage if needed (long-term care insurance, life insurance, annuities.)

Components of an Estate Plan

A Will

A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property after your death. A will can also be used to:

  • Name a guardian for your minor children,
  • Name an executor for your estate,
  • Provide for the establishment of a trust, and
  • Specify funeral wishes / arrangements.

Trust or Trusts

Trusts are legal arrangements set up to (1) provide asset protection and (2) assist in the distribution of assets in the trust. Trusts can help save time, reduce paperwork, and sometimes avoid taxes and / or probate.

  • A revocable trust can be terminated or changed during your life. You can name a person to take over management of the trust if you become incapacitated. After your death, the revocable trust becomes irrevocable and trust assets are distributed according to the terms of the trust / your wishes.
  • Trusts can provide financial privacy.
  • Trusts can help avoid probate.
  • An irrevocable trust can give certain tax  benefits, but after assets are transferred to the trust it cannot be terminated (“revoked”) and its terms generally cannot be changed.  
  • Other types of trusts can help you achieve specific goals. These include generation-skipping trusts, Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT), life insurance trusts, charitable trusts, and pet trusts.

Power of Attorney 

A power of attorney lets you appoint an agent to take care of your finances, bills, investments, taxes and other financial matters if you are unable to do so.

A power of attorney is a part of every estate plan.

Powers of Attorney can be broad or limited to a specific purpose.

Healthcare Power of Attorney

A healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) designates another person (often a spouse or family member) to make important healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

When designating an HCPA, you should choose a person you trust to honor your wishes. It can also be a good idea to choose a “backup” HCPA.