I'm not wealthy. I have a home, some savings and an investment account, and a modest retirement account. Isn't estate planning for the rich? Do I really need an estate plan? Click to learn more.
We serve as a guide, as experienced, trusted advisors. Once you have identified your most important priorities, we will then help you understand all of your options and the real cost of each option. Once you have all of the information you need, you can then make the most informed, sound decision possible, selecting a plan that checks all of the boxes you indicated were important.
A Will, often called a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document that expresses your wishes for the final disposition of your estate. Preparing a Will will allow you to substitute your wishes for the ultimate distribution of your property in place of the state's plan for your property.
A Trust is a legal relationship between three parties and a way to hold and manage property privately.
We are often asked to compare Wills and Trusts. Three basic differences are: (1) Control - a will does not control any property during your life; a trust can hold property from the day the trust is created; (2) Privacy - Wills go through a legal process called probate, while trust administration is private; and (3) Protection - if you are disabled, a Will does nothing for you, but a Trust holds your property during any period of disability, without resort to the courts.
Before your initial meeting with an estate planning attorney, gather as many of your important legal documents as you can. Begin to think about who you would trust to be in charge at any time you are unable to control your property, as agents under powers of attorney, executors, or trustees of trusts. Then think about your beneficiaries. Prepare to share any challenges they may face, that might indicate a need for protection.
The keys to an effective estate plan are (a) clear instructions about who you want in charge and how your property is to be held at every stage of life, and (b) ownership of your assets in a way that doesn't bypass your plan, but coordinates with it.