WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING?
Estate Planning is the process of anticipating the settlement of your estate (your stuff).
That's just a fancy way of saying you are pre-planning for what will happen to your stuff after you die.
Estate Planning looks different for each client, and can accomplish specific goals for each family.
ESTATE PLANNING CAN INCLUDE ANY OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:
Trusts have been used for hundreds of years for a host of different purposes. This wide variety of functions has given rise to numerous misconceptions about trusts. Simply put, a trust is a mechanism that allows one party to hold title to property of another. The use of trusts in estate planning is invaluable and can be used to accomplish a number of different goals, including but not limited to: privacy, probate avoidance, asset protections, incapacity planning, and tax planning.
A Will is the document that most people imagine when they contemplate creating an estate plan. This document names an Executor, can name guardians for minor children and can set out who will receive certain property after you pass away. It is important to note that a Will does not avoid Probate.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Powers of Attorney are documents that allow an individual to give an agent the authority to act on their behalf. These documents are only effective while the individual is still alive and can be drafted in such a way to allow the agent to act during and individual’s incapacity. Often an individual will draft one Financial Power of Attorney for financial matters and another Healthcare Power of Attorney for healthcare and medical matters.
Healthcare Directives, also referred to as Living Wills, are document used to specify your wishes related to end of life care.
ADVANCED PLANNING STRATEGIES
Often, families need planning strategies that go beyond the typical estate plan. Our attorneys have experience determining when more advanced strategies are necessary and incorporating those strategies for an effective overall plan including:
Domestic Asset Protection Trusts
Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)
Supplemental/Special Needs Trusts
Family Limited Liability Companies
Family Limited Partnerships
Closely Held Corporations
Business Succession Planning
Special Needs Trusts, also known as Supplemental Needs Trusts, are a necessary part of every Estate Plan when one or more of the beneficiaries is disabled. If you have a son or daughter with disabilities who is currently receiving, or could receive, public benefits, such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and you leave them money in your Will and/or Trust, the receipt of that money could disqualify them from receiving those public benefits.
However, if, instead, you leave them money in a Supplemental Needs Trust, your loved one can maintain their public benefits, while also having the use of the money in the Supplemental Needs Trust.
The attorneys at Tomac & Tomac have the knowledge and experience to assist families with creating these important trusts and guiding trustees through the administration process.
SPECIAL NEEDS TRUSTS
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