Estate planning is the three-fold process of recording your wishes for your family and your assets at the time of your death, considering the transfer of certain assets during your lifetime, and planning for your possible incapacity during your lifetime.
Generally, planning for your death involves arranging for the tax-efficient transfer of your assets to your intended beneficiaries, and appointing a guardian for your minor children. Asset transfer planning often includes the use of trusts aimed at reducing or eliminating estate (death) taxes, protecting the inheritances of young beneficiaries from their own immaturity, and protecting other beneficiaries from creditors, predators, and divorce. This planning is typically accomplished using a Will and Revocable Living Trust.
You may wish to transfer certain assets to your family during your lifetime for tax or other reasons. In making a lifetime gift, you must consider the impact of that gift on your future lifestyle, the tools for tax efficient transfer, and whether the intended beneficiaries need to be protected from their own immaturity or creditors.
Your estate plan should also address the possibility that you may be unable to make decisions for yourself at some point in your lifetime because of incapacity. Planning for incapacity usually involves naming one or more individuals to make financial, health care, and other decisions for you, as well as documenting your decisions regarding the deeply personal medical choices as life nears its end.
The attorneys of Hermenze & Marcantonio LLC use their substantial estate planning experience to create a thoughtful estate plan to:
- Protect your surviving spouse and children from creditors, predators, and divorce.
- Insure that your assets will remain in your bloodline.
- Appoint legal guardians to care for minor children.
- Direct how the assets for your children will be managed until they mature.
- Provide for children with special needs.
- Provide for your unmarried or domestic partner.
- Provide liquidity after death to pay taxes and debts.
- Reduce or eliminate estate (death) and gift taxes.
- Eliminate estate (death) taxes on your life insurance policies using an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust.
- Facilitate and maximize charitable giving.
- Transfer assets at a discount using QPRTs and GRATs.
- Coordinate distribution of your retirement plan and IRA assets with your asset transfer plan.
- Reduce the cost and time associated with probate.
- Direct how your assets will be managed upon incapacity.
- Name an agent under a Durable Power of Attorney to make financial and business decisions in the event of incapacity.
- Name a representative under an Appointment of Health Care Representative to make health care decisions in the event of incapacity.
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