There are too many Americans without a will—almost half of the United States—that estate planning is often an afterthought. It’s not uncommon for people to think of wills or trusts separately rather than as part of a larger asset protection strategy.

This is an estate plan—a collection of essential critical tools that preserve and protect your assets in life and death. Estate plans include wills, guardianship designations, healthcare power of attorney, beneficiary designations, durable power of attorney, and a personal letter of intent.

It’s a package deal—the Cadillac of end-of-life planning—meant to protect your legacy.

What’s Involved in Estate Planning?

A good estate plan considers your assets, children, business, and personal health care choices. Our attorneys start by defining your goals, gathering and organizing your financial information, and having an open, transparent discussion to develop the right estate planning strategies.

The estate planning options we recommend will likely be different for a person with a simple estate rather than a complex estate. We will consider the five most essential documents, from wills and testaments to a living trust to a health care power of attorney (POA)

Other discussion points might include any charities you’d like to contribute to or other final wishes.

What Makes Up My Estate?

An estate is considered everything you own at the time of your death, including land and real estate, stocks and bonds, bank accounts, 401ks, vehicles, businesses, personal possessions, and more. Property owned by a spouse is typically not considered an asset in the estate.

The purpose of a will and a trust is to pass on these assets legally after death. You may hear estate or “trust estate” when referring specifically to a trust.

During the estate planning, we review and inventory your assets to determine how you want them distributed and managed when you pass.

What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process that takes place after someone dies. The purpose is to authenticate the will and ensure its validity so that the executor can distribute the decedent’s assets. During probate, a person’s assets will be valued, final bills and taxes will be paid, and the remainder of the asset will go to the rightful heirs as defined in the will.

On the other hand, a trust is a private arrangement that protects your family from the probate court. Assets are protected in the trust and are distributed after your death by your trustee, with no court involvement.

There are many considerations as it relates to the estate planning process. Our firm can give you the clarity you need to make the best decisions for you and your family. Schedule a consultation to get started: (702) 935-4144.