What Is Estate Planning?
An estate plan handles much more than just “who gets your stuff”. It protects you and your family in the event you pass or become unable to care for yourself or your family. You can think of estate planning like insurance. Just like car insurance protects your car and homeowner’s insurance protects your home, an estate plan protects you and your family.
How Can An Estate Plan Work For Me?
An estate plan serves a number of functions:
Ensure the right person cares for your children in the event you are unable to do so yourself
Ensure your property is transferred to the persons of your choosing – not the state’s
Avoid probate or reduce administration costs
Ensure assets passed to children are used appropriately – for college, starting a business, etc. – not blown in one lump sum
Provide creditor and predator protection for loved ones
Prevent persons from receiving any of your assets
Make charitable contributions
Reduce estate taxes
Ensure the right person is making your health care decisions if you can’t do so yourself
Ensure your wishes are followed in end of life situations
Ensure your finances and business are handled by the right person if you can’t do so yourself
Transfer your business upon incapacity or death
What Should an Arizona Estate Plan Include?
We counsel our clients about what kind of estate planning is appropriate for their families. A typical estate plan consists of most if not all of the following documents:
Every parent of a minor child worries about what would happen to their children if something happened to them. A Will is a critical Arizona estate planning tool. In Arizona, a Last Will and Testament is the only place a parent can name a guardian for their children.
A Last Will and Testament also states how you want your assets distributed after death. And, if assets are to be left to minor children, your Will also names a conservator to manage the assets left to children while they are under the age of 18. Learn more about the benefits of a Last Will and Testament.
A Revocable Living Trust is a legal entity that owns and manages property for the benefit of another. While you are alive, you are both the trustee (the person who manages the trust) and the beneficiary (the person who benefits from the assets in the trust) of your trust. After passing, your Revocable Living Trust tells your trustee how your assets are to be distributed. A Revocable Living Trust can help ensure your assets are used wisely by your beneficiaries according to your values and desires. A properly funded Trust also avoids probate, thereby preserving your privacy. Also, there may be tax advantages to creating a Revocable Living Trust.
There are many other types of trusts. We often create Special Needs Trusts for beneficiaries that can provide support to the beneficiary without compromising government benefits. We can also create a trust to provide for your pet! We help our clients create plans as unique to themselves and their families.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney protect you by making sure the person of your choosing makes important decisions for you if you can’t do so yourself. A Health Care Power of Attorney designates an agent to make your health care decisions if you become ill or incapacitated. A Durable Power of Attorney designates an agent to handle your finances and business if you become ill or incapacitated. Creating powers of attorney while you are able could potentially save your family money and the stress of having to go to court to get someone – not of your choosing – appointed if something were to happen to you.
A Living Will states your wishes about the types of medical actions you want to be taken in the event you are suffering from a terminal condition, irreversible coma or persistent vegetative state. Would you prefer to be kept alive artificially or to pass peacefully?
Ensuring that your real property is disposed of according to your wishes is an important part of Arizona estate planning. A Beneficiary Deed is a deed that states where your real property should go upon death. Perhaps you want to transfer your property directly to your children or into your Revocable Living Trust. With respect to your real property, a Beneficiary Deed will avoid probate, and depending on the size of your estate, may help you avoid probate entirely. Since a person’s home and other real property is usually one of their largest assets, a Beneficiary Deed provides the peace of mind that it will be transferred to the right person(s). Learn more about our Beneficiary Deed Preparation Service.
Just as Arizona estate planning protects you and your family, business succession planning protects your interest in your business. What would happen to your business if something happened to you or to your business partner? If your business partner was unavailable, would you be comfortable running your business with their spouse or child? A solid business plan helps ensure that your hard work in building your business will not be lost in the event of disability or death. With a comprehensive business plan you can plan for every eventuality, including disability, retirement or selling your business to someone else. Learn more about business succession planning.
Comprehensive Estate Plans
Every family has a unique situation, but many are looking for the same thing: family security. We want to help you achieve that goal and offer a number of Arizona estate planning options tailored to your individual needs: