Wills & Trusts
Effective estate planning is the only way to ensure that your assets will be transferred to and used appropriately by your intended beneficiaries. Good planning prior to your death provides the means to control your assets, your health care and future medical treatment, and designates which of your loved ones gets what, when and how.
Estate planning can:
- Shelter your personal and business assets from future lawsuits, judgments and liens
- Eliminate personal liability for business activities
- Protect your privacy
- Minimize or eliminate federal gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes without loss of control or access during your lifetime or the lifetimes of your beneficiaries
- Fund charitable gifts and legacies through tax savings that enable you and your family members to direct resources to the causes most important to you
- Prevent state and federal agencies from depleting your estate when a family member requires special medical care
Wealth Preservation Plans
Effective estate planning aims to preserve the maximum amount of wealth possible for your intended beneficiaries while providing you the desired level of financial security and flexibility during your lifetime.
Planning For Partners
Gay and lesbian couples, as well as unmarried heterosexual couples, face unique challenges in protecting jointly owned property or in dividing assets in case the relationship ends. If you have not put your wishes in a legal document, you risk losing the right to choose who you want to make vital decisions about your health care and finances. Your partner will have no right to inherit your property, raise your children (unless you are both the biological parents), and may not even have the right to visit you in the hospital.
It may seem frivolous to some but to pet owners who love their pets, making sure their beloved animals are taken care of after they are gone is of the utmost importance. Will someone be notified so that your pet's care is not interrupted? Who will take care of these pets long-term after you are gone?
What does a Pet Trust do?
- Ensures your pets will be cared for, as you yourself have cared for them
- Ensures that there are funds available and a care taking system is in place
- Appoints a caregiver and at least one backup caregiver
- Appoints a Trustee to make sure that the care giver is doing his or her job
- Protects the money designated for the pet and ensures that it lasts for the duration of the pet's life\Gives directions regarding health care needs, exercise needs, diet needs, preferred veterinarian, and burial/cremation plans for your pet
- Provides that any funds remaining in trust at the death of the pet goes to charity or a family member
- Provides a method for finding a caretaker in the event that the caretaker or the back-up caretaker you have selected is unavailable
- Assets in a pet trust are NOT subject to the caregiver's creditors, marital disputes, or bankruptcy. (Alternatively, if you leave an outright gift of money to a person in your will in exchange for the care of yur pet, the money will go to that person's heirs or beneficiaries at his or her death and will not be available to care for the pet).
- You can provide for a temporary emergency/caregiver in the event that something unexpected happens to you providing them with keys to your home, feeding and care instructions, the name of your veterinarian, and information about permanent care instructions.
- Planning can lead to peace of mind, reducing the anxiety that many pet owners experience when they envision their beloved pet living without them
- There is no assurance that if you leave money to someone outright to care for your pet that they will do what was promised
- To ensure that certain people are notified, so your pet's care will not be interrupted
- To ensure that caretakers are pre-selected by you
- To provide a source of funds for your pet's care
- To inform future caretakes of your pet's care instructions, likes and dislikes, and your wishes as to your pet's burial and cremation
Estate Plan Review
Your estate plan should be reviewed and updated at least every four years or if any of the following events occur:
- A change in marital status
- The birth of a child
- A change in your state of residence
- A significant change in the value or character of your assets
- A change in intended beneficiaries
- The death of a beneficiary
- The death of a guardian, trustee, or personal representative named in your will
- A change in tax laws affecting federal estate tax deductions and calculations