Estate Planning is the process for having smooth family transfer of assets upon your death with the least emotional strain. It is the means by which your wishes are properly followed.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that authorizes another to handle your financial affairs prior to your death.
Will or Trust
Your Will or Trust sets forth your wishes upon your demise and also points the person or persons in whom you trust to carry out your wishes.
Property owned jointly may be owned in two different ways: (1) as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS) which provides that the survivor of the joint owners takes it all; (2) as tenants in common (TIC) which provides that each owner owns his or her individual share and it does not go to the survivor but to the Estate of the owner who died.
Many assets have a direct beneficiary named such as life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts and pension plans. Such assets pass to the beneficiary regardless of the Will or Trust.
Where do I begin?
(1) Create a detailed list of assets including the value of the asset, any liens against the asset, in whose name the asset is held and any beneficiary of the asset.
(2) Create a family tree with dates of birth for children or grandchildren under the age of 21.
(3) Consider and discuss with your spouse and or family the person whom you would trust as Executor of the estate, as Trustee of any trusts and as Guardian of any minor children.
(4) Think about any special bequests or burial arrangements you may have.
(5) Think about who you want to receive your residual estate, i.e., everything else you own.
Meeting with your Attorney
Once you have begun the process, it is time to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney. In addition to the above matters, the attorney will discuss with you whether the estate will be subject to estate taxes and, if so, who you expect to assume the burden to pay the taxes.
At Mahon, Mahon, Kerins & O'Brien, LLC, we prepare a draft document for your review based upon your meeting. Once you are satisfied that the document represents a true expression of your wishes, we will supervise the signing of the document.
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