Estate Planning is the process of planning for events following one’s death. This planning can include establishing Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts, simple Wills that allocate who your property passes to upon your death, complex tax planning for larger estates in order to minimize estate taxes and planning for the guardianship of minor or disabled children. One does not need to be wealthy to have an estate plan as everyone should be able to choose where their property passes upon their death and who should raise their children. In addition, estate planning means carefully planning for someone to handle your health care and your finances if you should become incapacitated. This is important for people of all socioeconomic means and includes the use of Durable Powers of Attorney, Health Care Powers of Attorney and Advanced Directives (Living Wills).
In addition to the altruistic reasons one considers when making charitable contributions, there are generally tax advantages to the donor. There are numerous options for setting up a charitable contribution in your estate plan. The easiest is a simple bequest through your will. A charitable contribution option, such as a Charitable Remainder Trust, may also be something to consider. This can help the charity of your choice as well as provide you with a steady stream of income and potential tax benefits during your life.
Estate Administration, commonly referred to as "probate," is the process that happens upon a person’s death. An executor is appointed to handle the administration with the court. This includes paying the final bills of the decedent (deceased person), paying their taxes and distributing their property according to the Will, if any.
Estate disputes are any disputes that come about either after death because of a disagreement about a Will or an estate administration or come about before death because of the abuse of power given in a document such as a Power of Attorney. Attorneys can help negotiate these disputes and attempt to settle the differences and, in the absence of such a settlement, litigate the issue in a court of law.
These are court-supervised relationships where a person is appointed to legally care for a minor person or an incompetent or disabled adult. Different circumstances where a guardianship may be necessary include:
|A minor child that inherits money|
|A disabled child that turns 18 and therefore the young adult's parents no longer have authority over him or her, but he or she still requires assistance in his or her own care, decision making and/or financial affairs|
|An elderly person who has dementia, Alzheimer’s or is otherwise incompetent