Wills, Trusts & Estates

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about wills, trusts and estate planning. Many think this type of planning is only needed for the wealthy, with the main objective of minimizing or avoiding estate and gift taxes. This could not be further from the truth. (In addition to the information below and other information on this site, you can visit our satellite site on Wills, Trusts & Estates for more information and to request a copy of our FREE estate report.)

Most married couples, especially if they have minor children, should have wills, advance healthcare directives (also known as “living wills” or medical powers of attorney) and durable powers of attorney in order to be prepared for any unexpected happenings in their lives such as premature death, accident or illness. In the case of minor children, a parent’s will should contain a minor’s trust since these persons are not old enough to own property outright. Such trust should stipulate when the minor gets income, when they get principal and what discretionary powers the Trustee shall have.

These “personal” documents should be reviewed and updated at least every five years, or in the event of life-changing circumstances such as divorce, death, illness or relocation to another jurisdiction.

If children have special needs due to handicaps or disabilities, “special needs” provisions should be included in the will and perhaps a separate “supplemental” needs trust should be created.

As part of this process, be sure that any beneficiary designations on financial products, bank accounts or life insurance are coordinated with the estate plan to achieve the intended outcome. Remember that joint titling of assets usually supersedes will directives, so pay attention to the proper titling of assets such as your home residence or other real estate.

More information  . . .