Most people think of estate planning as the preparation for the disposition of assets at death–and, it is — however, estate planning is much more. Most estate planning attorneys would say estate planning is about life planning.
Estate Planning includes:
- Incapacity Planning
- Pet Planning
- Inheritance Planning
- Charitable Planning
- Legacy Planning
- Bloodline Protection Planning
- Special Needs Planning
- Tax Planning
Incapacity planning refers to planning for the possibility that you become disabled or incapacitated, and are unable to manage your day -to-day business and financial affairs.
Revocable Living Trusts, Financial Powers of Attorney, Medical Powers of Attorney, HIPAA Releases, Living Wills, and Organ Donation Authorizations are all used to best ensure that your wishes are carried out when you do not have the capacity to do so yourself.
Incapacity planning also includes nursing home planning, helping the elderly qualify for Medicaid to pay for nursing home costs.
Pet planning best ensures that your beloved pets will be cared for when you are unable to care for them yourself due to disability or death. You can include pet planning in your Revocable Living Trust or through a stand-alone Pet Trust.
A trustee is named to carry out the instructions in your Pet Trust and a caretaker is named to take physical care of your pet. Pet planning is becoming increasingly popular.
Inheritance planning refers to the way your spouse, children, and grandchildren will inherit assets from you. Incentive trusts can be used to encourage behaviors such as graduating from college or starting a business.
Asset protection planning is commonly used so that assets you leave for your loved ones are not seized by creditors or predators. Assets left in lifetime asset protection trust shares are safe from divorcing spouses, bankruptcy, malpractice suits, business failures, and lawsuits stemming from car accidents, slip and falls, and the like.
Charitable planning involves everything from making a cash donation to your community library or animal shelter to setting up your own family foundation for charitable works.
Charitable Lead Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Private Foundations, Donor Advised Funds, and Gift Annuities, are all charitable planning tools.
Legacy planning is about leaving a legacy for your family, friends, and/or community. You can leave a legacy through charitable planning or within your own family. Ethical Wills are used to let your family know that you love them, share wisdom you have gained throughout your lifetime, or share dreams for your family’s future.
Legacy planning can also be incorporated into your Revocable Living Trust. For example, you can encourage your family just as you would have if you were alive. Perhaps, you leave assets to fund season tickets to Penn State football games for your children and grandchildren. Other ideas would be funding an annual family vacation, paying for grandchildren’s college education, or rewarding community service, volunteerism, and stay at home parenting.
Bloodline Protection Planning
Bloodline protection planning is implemented to ensure that your children and grandchildren are not disinherited. Children are often intentionally and unintentionally disinherited in second marriages.
Special Needs Planning
Special needs planning ensures that the inheritance you leave for your loved ones does not disqualify them from receiving governmental assistance.
Tax planning is an integral part of estate planning and is often the motivation for doing estate planning in the first place. Tax planning includes federal estate tax, generation skipping tax, gift tax, and income tax planning.
An estate planning attorney consistently works with a team of professional advisors including financial advisors, CPAs, bankers, and insurance professionals.
Where to Get More Information on Estate Planning
For information, specific to your situation, consult with a qualified estate planning attorney.