Estate Planning is a necessary, although uncomfortable, and important task facing people. Nothing can tear a family apart quicker than a loved one dying or becoming mentally incapable of making their own decisions. Why? The same reason that causes a great many squabbles in the world…. Money. Everyone in a family often have a different perspective of how to take care of a family member, how the family member’s money should be spent or divided, how the family member’s personal property should be divided and whom should get the deceased’s house.
Family squabbles can be avoidable with some planning. Not always, but often family members will respect the wishes set forth in a Will, Durable Power of Attorney and/or Health Care Power of Attorney. Wischmeyer welcomes estate planning clients with quality professional preparation of an estate plan.
An individual’s estate plan may include the following:
Will – This document designates the person who will be in charge of administering your estate (the stuff that you have when you die) and transferring your property to the appropriate heirs. Also designates who will get your stuff and satisfies other legal requirements that may help to avoid taxes or complicated asset transfers. A Will might also designate burial desires.
Minor’s Trust – This document designates the person that will be in charge of preserving your estate for minor children. A Minor’s Trust may designate the age and conditions of when trust funds should be used for the minor child’s best interest, welfare, purchase of a car or home, education for the children and any other terms that you might want to limiting the use of your funds for minor children.
Intervivos Trust – This document is utilized to avoid probate, the administration of an estate with court oversight. An Intervivos Trust works like a company and exists as a separate entity and becomes the “owner” of your property, real estate and anything else transferred or titled to the Trust. A Trustee is named and in charge of the assets and responsibilities of the trust.
Health Care Power of Attorney – This document designates a person or combination of persons to make health care decisions in the event that a person cannot make their own decisions due to incapacity or competency.
Living Will Declaration – In the event a person is unable to make health care decisions and the doctor believes the only way to keep the person alive is with feeding and water tubs. The person makes a declaration of whether person wants artificial food and water, does not want artificial food and water or whether it will be up to the Health Care Power of Attorney to decide whether artificial food and water will be provided.
Digital Properties Declaration – Declaration of whom shall have control digital properties to continue accounts or close accounts such as facebook®, Linked in®, Blogs, websites, Manta®, Merchant Circle® and other such digital online accounts.
Estate Tax Planning – The United States Congress continues to debate the level at which to set the estate tax exemption. Often referred to as the “death” tax, planning to utilize the maximum exemption, transfer assets prior to death to loved ones to avoid taxation and other planning mechanisms can keep more of your assets in your family and heirs’ hands not the governments.