More than half of Americans don’t have a will or living trust and maybe that’s because most individuals don’t know they have an estate. Believe it or not, you do have an estate. In fact, nearly everyone does. Your estate is comprised of everything you own— your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, personal possessions. No matter how large or how modest, everyone has an estate and something in common—you can’t take it with you when you die.
At Morneau Law, we recommend that you review your estate planning documents every three years or upon any life changing event such as divorce, death of a family member or birth of a child.
If you have never approached estate planning, maybe you are wondering where to start. Or maybe you are wondering if you need to review the estate plan you already have in place.
Here’s a brief overview of some items we will cover as we work alongside you to develop a personalized estate plan to meet your and your family’s needs.
Are you ready to prepare your estate plan?
During your estate planning meeting with Morneau Law, we will discuss:
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Healthcare Power of Attorney
- Living Wills Advance Directive
- Transfer of assets upon death
- Will and/or Living Trust
Are you married? If so, we’ll cover:
- Probate avoidance for surviving spouse
- Tax planning to maximize benefits for surviving spouse
Do you have children? Parents will need:
- Guardianship for minors
- Asset protection for children’s inheritance
Are you a business owners? Then we would review:
- Asset protection for business property, accounts, and goodwill
- Agreement between all members, shareholders, or partners
- Integration of business planning into personal estate planning
Other common needs that also can be covered with your estate planning attorney include:
- Specific planning for loved ones with special needs
- Asset protection from long-term care costs
- Specific advice planning for tax-deferred assets like IRAs and 401ks
Do you already have an estate plan in place?
If you simply want to revisit and update your revocable living trust, you will need to consider:
- Is your trust properly funded?
- Is your real estate titled in trust?
- Are your non-qualified financial accounts owned in trust?
- Is your trust named as primary beneficiary of life insurance?
- Is there a your trust named as contingent beneficiary on your retirement accounts?
- Does trust have conduit provisions?
- Is your trust the assignee of LLC or partnership interests?
- Is the trust the stockholder of S corp stock?
- Does trust language make trust a qualified shareholder?
- Does your trust protect assets for a surviving spouse (if any)?
- Does your trust protect assets for your beneficiaries? If beneficiaries receive portion “outright” and “free of trust,” consider creating cascading trusts to ensure assets protected from beneficiaries’ creditors, divorcing spouses, etc. Does your trust include stand-by special needs provisions for beneficiaries that may receive public benefits?
- If your trust distributes to a charitable beneficiary: Is there an alternative beneficiary named?
- Does your trust distribute tax-deferred assets to the charity first? If so, does your trust provide guidance to the trustee to avoid the “five year rule” for designated beneficiaries?
If you are unhappy with an Irrevocable Living Trust:
- Do all beneficiaries consent to the amendment?
- Was there a mistake made in the original trust agreement?
Contact Morneau Law
There is a lot to consider when estate planning. At Morneau Law, we take pride in serving our clients, their families and the community around us. Give us a call!