7 Key Components of Estate Planning

People are sometimes surprised at the breadth of estate planning.

While there are many facets to it, the following are the key components of an estate plan:

  1. Basic Estate Planning: After reviewing a client’s goals, we work with that client to develop a plan that fits the particular situation. A simple plan might involve wills, financial and health care powers of attorney, and living wills. Many of our plans also involve revocable trusts, which for many people are a great way to combine their estate planning goals with the avoidance of probate.
  2. Drafting Complex Trusts: Some clients’ situations require more complex trust arrangements, such as trusts to facilitate charitable giving (charitable remainder trusts or charitable lead trusts), trusts to hold life insurance policies (irrevocable life insurance), or other irrevocable trusts to achieve a number of different goals from estate tax reduction to long-term care issues.
  3. Trust Funding: No matter what type of trust we prepare for a client, we do not consider our work complete unless we have helped the client through the process of transferring assets to the new trust or trusts that we have created.
  4. Tax Planning: Our estate planning frequently encompasses the issues surrounding estate taxes. In many cases, proper trust planning can eliminate or at least substantially reduce the likelihood of paying estate taxes.
  5. Business Planning: As part of their estate planning, many of our clients use our services to help them plan for the succession of their businesses. We are able to offer services such as the preparation of LLC operating agreements or business buy-sell agreements, among others.
  6. Marital Planning and other Special Family Situations: We have extensive experience in helping families with particular situations, such as providing for the children of a first marriage and a second spouse in a harmonious fashion. When the need arises, we are also able to prepare prenuptial agreements that are tailored to the client’s wishes.
  7. Gifting Strategies: Whether for reasons of estate tax reduction or in conjunction with long term care planning, we offer our clients advice on appropriate lifetime gifting, including the appropriate assets to gift and the mechanism by which to make those gifts.

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