Estate Planning Law Center

Fundamentals of Estate Planning, Will & Testaments, Advance Medical Directives, Probate



What is Estate Planning

Estate planning is planning for your estate while you are alive and well, if you become incapacitated, and after your death. It involves the management of your assets while you are still alive and the distribution of those assets after you die. This planning allows for the orderly administration and disbursement of your estate, and includes taking actions that will minimize taxes and distribute assets to the appropriate heirs.

Your estate consist of all your property, which includes your house and other real estate; tangible personal property; and intangible property, like insurance, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, pensions, etc.

The elements of an estate plan include a will; assignment of power of attorney; a living will or health-care proxy; and for some people, a trust.

When you are setting up an estate plan, ask yourself the following questions:
  1. Whom do you want to inherit your assets?
  2. Whom do you want handling your financial affairs if you are ever incapacitated?
  3. Whom do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them yourself?
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Recent Articles Related to Estate Planning

  • Why All Parents Need a Will
    When youíre young and healthy, creating a will isnít something that is high on your to do list, but it should be. Youíre a responsible parent and you only want what is best for your children. Youíve already made sure that your child has the safest crib, stroller, and car seat. Now itís time that you do a little more to protect your family and their future: create your will.
  • Top 12 Reasons Why You Need an Estate Plan
    Many people think estate planning isnít for them, but the reality is that estate planning is for everyone. No matter how young you are or how little you own, everyone can benefit from an estate plan.
  • Estate Planning: What About the Intellectual Property?
    Despite good intentions, many people do not get serious about completing their estate planning and estate documents until late in life. Even when they do, they focus on which individuals will inherit the tangible assets Ė such as houses, land, money, jewelry, stock and other investments.
  • Blended Families Need Estate Planning Too
    Todayís family structure is much different than it was many years ago. A large number of families are now blended with married spouses and children from previous relationships. Blended families have more complex wealth planning considerations than others. This often requires special care and advance planning.
  • How Stretch IRAs are Used as an Estate Planning Tool
    Estate planning is essential for those with assets that the owner wants to leave behind or to extend into his or her later years, and some of these tools involve multiple items. The stretch IRA is a retirement planning tool that may be used best in estate planning for someone that is planning to ensure he or she lives well after entering retirement age.
  • Paying Attention to Details in Your Estate Plan and Importance of an Estate Planning Lawyer
    The estate plan is crucial to ensure either retirement is comfortable, or that heirs are taken care of after the estate owner has passed on, and the details are essential to providing for these eventualities. The estate planning lawyer is the main point of contact for documentation and implementation of the plan and keeping the steps followed after the person is no longer alive.
  • Importance of Business Succession Planning at the Beginning
    Business succession planning is the process of deciding what will happen to your business when you no longer are able to or desire to run it. While many people think of business succession planning when they are nearing the end of their career, it is important to consider business succession when the business is first established.
  • ABLE Accounts for Families with Special Needs
    Families who have children with special needs often try to plan ahead to anticipate the needs of the child with disabilities. It is often very costly to provide for the basic needs of a child in this situation. However, parents who take steps to try to safeguard resources for their disabled childís use may wind up causing a child to lose benefits. ABLE accounts may be able to fill in the gap for these families.
  • Spouse in Long-Term Care and the Need to Update Estate Plan
    There are certain times when individuals need to update their estate planning documents like their will, trust or power of attorney designations. Many individuals are familiar with common times, like when they get married or have children. However, another important time to update an estate plan is if a personís spouse has started to receive long-term care.
  • Importance of Naming Contingent Beneficiaries in Estate Planning Documents
    Beneficiaries may be named in a number of estate planning documents. A named beneficiary often helps assets to transfer outside the probate process, saving time and money in the process. Failing to name a beneficiary or contingent beneficiary can cause significant issues in an estate plan.
  • Divorce and Estate Planning

    If you are going through or even contemplating a divorce, the single most important step you can take to make sure that your desires are carried out is to execute a new will, power-of-attorney and health care proxy.

  • DIY Estate Plans

    Many people view estate planning as selling of commodity documents (like wills, trusts, etc.). And if that is all there is to it, then they are right to choose DIY options like the form sites that are available. This article discusses DIY estate planning.

  • Do-It-Yourself Wills Leave Families Unprotected

    As the economy crawls sluggishly toward recovery, individuals and families continue to make difficult financial choices. In an effort to save money, people are increasingly attempting to personally handle tasks that were once reserved for professionals.

  • Golden Years can be Tarnished by Lack of Planning

    Retirees often come to Arizona to enjoy their golden years in great weather and an affordable state with spectacular natural beauty. Things sometimes turn ugly and expensive for seniors in Arizona, however.

  • Is This a Good Time to Transfer Your Wealth to Your Children?

    Is this a good time to transfer your wealth to your children? With the interest rates at a really low rate, and with the economic fallout from the present economy, even people with money do not feel flush now and may decide that they do not want to make gifts to the next generation. Even though the economy has been in recession many times before and has come out of it to prosperity, sometimes it is hard to look beyond the present time to see that prosperity.

  • Making Estate Planning a Family Affair

    Very few people are excited about drawing up their estate plans.

  • Pet Trusts Are an Important Part of Estate Planning

    A pet trust should be included as part of any good estate plan, just as a will, POS, HCP, and LW are the minimums everyone should have. The Helmsley debacle outlined some problems in her Pet Trust and will. Good drafting goes a long way.

  • Repeal of Estate Tax Likely to be Short-Lived

    As December 31 came and went, so did the federal estate tax - or at least for the time being. The estate tax, or the "death tax" as it is more affectionately known, is a tax imposed on the property and assets (i.e. "the estate") that an individual leaves behind at death. Under 2009 rates, the first $3.5 million of the estate was exempt from the tax while any amount over this was taxed at 45 percent.

  • Seniors Ė Planning Ahead is Key to Financial Stability

    Recently, there was a case in the news of a Brooks Astor, a New York socialite, who is now 104 years old. Her grandson is in a heated battle to remove his dad as Mrs. Astor's caregiver. In court papers that were filed, the grandson accused his father of ignoring Mrs. Astor's health and personal needs and requested a friend of Mrs. Astor's be appointed as her guardian.

  • The Pitfalls of Improper Titling of your Assets

    Even if the terms of your estate plan meet your current goals, your estate plan could be defeated if your assets are not titled in accordance with your particular estate plan.

  • The Value of Gifts to Estate Planning

    Gifts offer an important tool for Estate Planners to avoid federal estate taxes. However if gifts do not take into account the special circumstances of the giver and recipient it may create more harm than help.

  • Three Ways to Ensure your Minor Children can Inherit without Costly Guardianship Proceedings

    While itís not a pleasant subject, sometimes parents pass away while their children are still under the age of 18. What happens then? In this article, we discuss the perils of guardianship and three ways to avoid it.

  • What is IRS Section 529?

    IRS section 529 or Qualified Tuition Programs (QTP's) are found under Title 26, Subtitle A, Chapter 1, Subchapter F, Part VIII, Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code or "IRC". It is considered the most complicated and hard to read section of the Code and a good treatment for insomnia. This section deals with special tax breaks for families, hence the "insomnia effect".

  • Why You Need an Estate Plan

    With the repeal of the estate tax (and generation skipping tax or "GST"), you may have put your estate plan on hold. This could be a serious mistake and put your family's (and business') financial future in jeopardy!




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