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Estate Planning


Time was when estate planning meant minimizing federal and state estate taxes through a variety of legal documents and entities.  While such devices are still relevant for people with large estates, changes in estate tax rules over the last decade have made at least the federal estate tax a non-issue for most families.  Even though estate taxes may not be an issue for most, there are many other reasons to make sure your estate plan is up-to-date.  The objective of your estate plan should be to not only direct the disposition of your estate at your death, but to provide for the management of your estate and your personal affairs and decisions during a lifetime incapacity as well. 
 
For that reason, a modern estate plan encompasses more than a will.  While a will is certainly a core document, it is seldom sufficient by itself.  Other documents that may be advisable, given your situation, include a marital property agreement, durable power of attorney, living will (aka declaration to physicians), health care power of attorney, revocable and irrevocable trusts, and a less formal testamentary letter of instructions to your heirs and personal representative.  A modern estate plan coordinates beneficiary designations with the legal documents to make sure that your entire estate is disposed of tax-efficiently and according your wishes and strategies.  Which documents you need is a decision you will make after consulting with us and a qualified estate planning attorney.  We work together with you and you attorney to ensure that your estate goals are well articulated, that the attorney understands your family and financial circumstances prior to recommending a strategy and drafting documents.  We then review the draft documents prior to your executing them.  Of course, as we are not attorneys, we cannot review the documents technically, but we can ensure that they appear to work to achieve your goals and to ensure that ongoing responsibilities are well understood by all concerned.
 
A thoughtful estate plan is an integral part of a comprehensive financial plan that permits the plans ongoing relevance in the event of your incapacity and the transition of your wealth and values to the next generation. 


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