Estate Plans are a set of documents tailored to meet your goals for the future of yourself and your loved ones.

Your goals may be to plan for retirement, provide for your family, preserve your assets, donate to charity, minimize taxation, avoid probate, or designate guardians for your minor children if the unexpected happens. Estate planning can accomplish all of this and more, including:

• Selecting who will act as medical and financial agent in the event of your incapacity

• Minimizing or avoiding income taxes for your beneficiaries

• Protecting assets for the benefit of persons who are unable to manage their personal finances

• Deflecting possible will contests or claims by disgruntled heirs

• Anticipating any problem assets and providing for their disposition

• Planning for the future of your business

• And any other issues that might affect the well-being of the individual’s family or business

The lack of an up-to-date and effective estate plan can create an unnecessary financial and emotional burden on your surviving family. Some issues and consequences that frequently arise include:

• Making gifts directly to minor children instead of in trust can lead to more expensive court conservatorships

• Using joint tenancy or payable on death (POD) forms of ownership as will substitutes can create taxable gifts or provide beneficiaries with more control over your assets than intended

• Failing to plan for disgruntled heirs or potential creditors can trigger costly court battles and family feuds

• Neglecting to name guardians for minor children may cause costly litigation or result in unintended guardianship of the children

• Making outright gifts to incapacitated persons who are on Medicaid can, at least temporarily, make them ineligible for benefits

• Neglecting to address changes in marital status can lead to unintended disposition of your assets 

A complete estate plan will provide direction to your loved ones about your medical and financial goals in the event of incapacity and how your assets should be distributed after your passing. It can ease family member’s worries and prevent disputes. Your family will know what you want and how to carry out your wishes.