Estate Planning: Preparation & Peace of Mind
Today’s professionals, ranging from those working their way from their first job out of college to those approaching retirement following a successful career, all share a common need: life and estate plans.
Few want to ponder their own mortality. And as unlikely or unseemly as it may be, if you were to pass or suffer permanent mental incapacitation, estate planning early on not only enables your loved ones to assist you during any period of incapacity, but also lists your assets and makes clear your wishes about who will benefit from and control your assets.
Estate planning often consists of two components: planning for incapacity during your life and then the ultimate disposition of your assets upon your death. Therefore, elements of your plan may include a will designating who will receive what from your estate; and a living will or advanced directive, such as a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order), power of attorney, health care surrogate and possibly a revocable trust.
From the start, you’ll have to consider whom you trust — then ask if they would agree — to handle what would become difficult financial or medical-treatment or end of life decisions if you were somehow incapacitated. Even with this trustee or surrogate in place, some assets may be held jointly or pass to a direct beneficiary, like a spouse.A will or revocable trust can help codify your desires.
As your career matures and you begin to accumulate assets, including any shares held in a business enterprise, you’ll want disposition of your holdings prepared in such a way to facilitate disbursement with minimal tax liabilities to the beneficiaries.
At that stage, your estate plan also should include your desired appointment of guardians and testamentary trusts for your minor children to ensure if you and their other parent were to pass, they are left with someone you trust and are provided with sufficient, properly directed assets to provide for their well-being and education.
As you near and enter retirement, your estate specialist can prepare documents, including a revised power of attorney, while you still have the capacity to make decisions about your care, where you will live and how your assets are invested to provide for yourself and your spouse.
Online forms and kits promise simple estate planning. Done incorrectly, your estate may require disposition by the courts if its validity is questioned. A trusted financial advisor and trusts and estates attorney can help prepare your documents to balance your goals, ensure your beneficiaries are provided for — and provide you peace of mind.
Christine P. Yates, a director with Tripp Scott, leads the firm's Private Wealth Service group. She brings over 24 years of experience guiding her clients through the full spectrum of estate transfer issues. From small administrations to estates in excess of $1 billion, she counsels clients on estate, gift and generation-skipping planning, trust and estate administration and fiduciary litigation.
For more than 50 years, Tripp Scott has played a leadership role in issues that impact business.
Learn more at TrippScott.com.