Estate Planning includes discussions of probate and trusts and much more. One size does not fit all. People are different. Families are different. Estates are different.
Estate Planning means planning for different stages of life: during a person’s working life, on retirement, during incapacity, and eventually on death.
If you have never made an estate plan, one has been made for you and may very well notbe what you want. Kansas, and other States, have laws of Intestate Succession, meaning if you die owning property in your own name, the State has a set of rules/laws that govern the disposition of your property on death.
Among the considerations in Estate Planning are:
- Can you avoid probate? Yes you can, but is that the best plan for you?
- Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions
- Power of Attorney for Business Decisions
- Living Will Declaration (which is a document expressing your desire to not have your life extended by artificial means)
- Wills (the kind that leaves your property where you want it to go after death)
- Trusts (revocable and irrevocable)
- Joint Tenancy with Rights of Survivorship
- Pay on Death Account
- Transfer on Death Deeds
- Ownership of, and Naming Beneficiaries on contracts such as:
- Life insurance
- Individual Retirement Accounts
- Retirement Benefits from Employers
- Discussion of Inheritance and Estate Taxes
- Gifts to charitable organizations during life, upon death or both
Some choices are not easy. It takes careful thought and discussion, sometimes over a period of time.
Advice on Estate Planning matters can come from many different sources. Income taxes impact your Estate Plan and the CPA or Accountant who prepares your income tax return annually can be a big help. Life Insurance agents, Investment Advisors, Trust Officers, and others can help in the discussion and with advice.
As lawyers, we can help with the discussion by sorting through the myriad of different tools which can be used to plan your estate.
Estate Planning is never completed. Families and circumstances change, finances, health, and otherwise. Tax laws change.