At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo in California, we know that ALL estate planning is proactive. After all, your estate cannot plan itself. It is your wishes and goals that your estate plan implements, so the first thing you must do is determine what your wishes and goals are. In other words, what is important to you? Tax savings? Retirement planning? Asset protection? Long-term care options? Charitable giving? Taking care of your special needs child throughout his or her life? Probate avoidance? Making sure your heirs receive exactly the property you wish?
Whatever your goals and desires, a good estate plan can accomplish them for you. But it is up to you to take the lead by telling your attorney, financial planner, investment broker and other professionals what you want so they can best advise you on the myriad of ways you can accomplish it.
One size does not fit all
As US Bank explains, there is an estate plan to fit every person and every need. Whether you are young, mature, single, married (heterosexual or same-sex), one of an unmarried couple, a parent, a business owner or any other type of individual, you need and can have an estate plan unique to you. It goes without saying that the wealthier you become, the more sophisticated your estate plan undoubtedly will be.
Plethora of trusts
While a will is the foundation document for most people’s estate plan, it is the foundation only. Considering that virtually everything you pass by will is subject to a public probate proceeding and inheritance taxes, the financial and psychological value of trusts cannot be ignored. Your choice of trust vehicles is nearly unlimited and includes the following:
- Living trust
- Special needs trust
- Charitable trust
- Asset protection trust
- Spendthrift trust
- Irrevocable trust
Regardless of how young and healthy you are at present, an injury, illness or old age could incapacitate you to the extent that you become incapable of making your own decisions or expressing your wishes. To prepare for such an eventuality, consider one or more of the following:
- Living will
- Financial power of attorney
- Health care power of attorney
- Durable power of attorney
- Springing power of attorney
While no blog post can cover all the details of all the estate planning strategies available, these are just a few examples of things to consider when you start to think about creating or updating your estate plan. And remember, with the exception of an irrevocable trust, you can revise or even revoke virtually all other estate planning documents as your needs evolve.
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