Despite knowing how important estate planning is, over half of all Americans do not have a comprehensive estate plan in place. Failing to create an estate plan can have serious unintended consequences in the event of incapacity or death. Our attorneys help individuals create an estate plan that provides protection for loved ones and assets as well as minimizes an estate’s exposure to taxes during the transfer of wealth.
Estate Planning – More than Just a Last Will and Testament
While a Last Will and Testament should be the cornerstone of any estate plan, an estate plan should include much more than just a Will. The more valuable and complex an estate is the more important it is to create a comprehensive estate plan that incorporates a variety of strategies and tools aimed at protecting both assets and beneficiaries. A well-drafted estate plan can do more than simply provide a blueprint for the distribution of assets upon the death of the testator.
Some of the additional goals and objectives an estate plan can achieve include:
- Incapacity planning – incapacity can strike at any time. Without an incapacity plan, a court may need to decide who controls assets and makes healthcare decisions.
- Long-term care planning – long term care costs, on average, $75,000 a year. Without planning for the costs of long-term care it can wipe out a lifetime of savings.
- Retirement planning – retirement planning should be coordinated with an estate plan for maximum benefit.
- Medicaid planning – for many older Americans Medicaid is the only option for payment of long-term care, yet qualifying can mean losing valuable and important assets unless Medicaid planning was made part of an estate plan early on.
- Asset protection – hard earned assets can be lost to creditors, medical bills, or even to beneficiaries who squander the money or assets. Including asset protection strategies in an estate plan can prevent this from happening.
- Charitable gifting – charitable gifting, when done properly, can provide both tax benefits and fulfill a personal goal.
For estate owners with considerable wealth, estate planning often focuses on the protection of assets and the transfer of those assets to future generations with as little exposure to taxes as possible. There are numerous legal methods of accomplishing this goal, such as creating a trust or other entity to hold assets or holding assets in an offshore account. KM understands estate planning goals and objectives and can help ensure that those goals and objectives are achieved through a comprehensive estate plan.