While most of us would prefer to avoid thinking about our inevitable death, advanced estate planning can save your loved ones’ time, money, and confusion. Estate planning involves both planning for management of your assets during your life and for passing your property on to your children or other heirs after your passing, with as few taxes and costs as possible. With thoughtful estate planning, you can take care of yourself and your loved ones in a way that will benefit them for decades to come.
Powers of Attorney
Having the right powers of attorney in place can help ensure your family has the authority to act on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so for yourself. Powers of attorney give someone of your choosing the authority to act in a manner that you specify; powers are limited by what is specified in these legal documents. Whether you need a financial power of attorney to ensure someone is taking care of your financial obligations, or a medical power of attorney to address your health care decisions, I can help you prepare the proper legal documents. I will take the time to discuss with you what you want to accomplish and help you draft the appropriate powers of attorney.
Will and Trust Preparation
The core document of estate planning is the will. If you die without a will (“intestate”), state law determines who will receive your property by default. You can alter the state’s default plan to suit your own personal preference by executing your own will. Your will controls the distribution of your “probate estate” but not your “non-probate estate” (assets that are jointly titled with another person, or assets with a named beneficiary such as insurance policies, retirement plans, bank and brokerage accounts). When your probate estate assets are minimal, a “simple will” may be sufficient to ensure your personal probate assets are distributed as per your wishes. When you have a business or a substantial amount of personal wealth, a complex will utilizing trusts may be more suitable. I will take the time to understand your current financial situation, as well as discuss how you see your financial outlook over the next five years, and work with you to determine whether a complex will or trust is appropriate for you.
Losing a loved one is one of life’s great challenges. Often, one barely has time to come to terms with a loss before being overwhelmed by the pressures of taking care of an estate including paying bills, gathering and distributing assets, handling family disagreements, filing forms, etc. I aim to guide clients through the probate process and remove its pressures. I offer clients assistance from start to finish—filing the petition to appoint the personal representative, securing the property, preparing the estate tax returns, disbursing estate proceeds to the heirs, and producing the final accounts to the court.
Guardianship is a last resort when a loved one becomes incapable of caring for herself or making proper decisions about health, living arrangements, and finances. Through proper planning, most clients can avoid guardianship. Guardianship is the court appointment of one person to make health care and/or financial decisions for another person. It takes away the legal rights of the person for whom a guardian has been appointed. There are times, even with proper planning, when guardianship is unavoidable. In those instances, I assist clients in getting appointed by the court, advising them on their powers and responsibilities, and helping prepare proper accountings to the court.
Estate issues are complex, and many of us fail to properly address the numerous issues that can have an impact on our loved ones in the event of our incapacity or death. Contact Thienel Law, LLC today, and let me help you with your estate planning or administration needs.