Drafting a will or setting up a trust is the best way to control the disposition of your assets after death or incapacitation. A full plan not only manages who receives your property but also your preferences for medical care or decision-making should you lose capacity to manage these items.
John Kenney & Associates, PLLC can help you plan for these events by creating an estate plan that covers everything from incapacity and illness to how your loved ones are provided for after your death. Here is a description of the estate planning services we offer.
A will designates not only who your property will pass to after your death, but the individual who will manage your estate during probate. During the probate process, creditors can file claims and your personal representative will ensure their payment during probate. Once that is finished, your personal representative distributes your property to those you designated. While the probate process often worries many of our clients, it is a very easy one when you have a will. It is when you die without a will that probate can become worrisome as your wishes are unknown.
Putting your property in trust holds it for the benefit of another. You can place your property into a trust, and designate a trustee to manage it, now or you can create a testamentary trust that only comes into effect after you die.
A trustee will manage your property, and any income it generates, and distribute proceeds to beneficiaries. It is a great option if you want to create a process to benefit your loved ones now or you prefer your property is distributed incrementally after you die, rather than all at once. There are many types of trusts and we can discuss those further with you at a consultation.
The most common type of trust is a Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust has more advanced features than a will and can avoid the probate process. This can save money and time, particularly for persons and families with a more complicated situation or property in multiple states where probate would be required in each state. Read more about it here:
Family Limited Partnership
A family limited partnership (FLP) is like any partnership, but its partners are all family members. This is a technique that is often used to begin transferring your investment wealth to younger generations without giving them control. This technique will also frequently be allowed to “discount” the transfers of partnership interests to your children and grandchildren. This can be a tremendous benefit for higher net worth families who are close to or exceed federal estate tax credit amounts.
Family Limited Liability Companies
Like a limited liability company, a family limited liability company (FLLC) insulates owners and assets from liabilities of the company. The FLLC, like the FLP, is formed principally among family members. As members, your loved ones will receive distributions from their FLLC interest and may also qualify for a “discount” the same as an FLP.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney designates an agent to handle your affairs after you become incapacitated. It is only effective while you are alive and the agent is required to act in your best interest. There are two types of powers of attorney most frequently requested by our clients.
Limited Power of Attorney:
This power of attorney specifically defines duties, unlike a general power of attorney that allows for the agent to act within his or her unlimited discretion. For example, you may want your agent to only sign documents for you or manage your bank account, but not give that agent access to your investments.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney:
An agent under a durable financial power of attorney can pay your expenses, invest your money, file and pay taxes, and perform other financial duties, including the operation of your small business. These duties can be as broad or narrow as you wish.
Living Wills & Advance Medical Directives
Living wills and advance medical directives make your health wishes known in case of incapacitation. They also designate the extent medical professionals should apply life-preserving technology. These documents make your wishes known, but some clients wish to also appoint a health care agent to make medical decisions when they cannot make them on their own.
Health Care Power of Attorney:
You can think of this person as an enforcer. Not only will the agent make medical decision when you cannot, but he or she will protect your wishes if a hospital does not honor your living will or advance directive. Be aware that you do not need to be terminally ill or in a coma to activate this power of attorney. This is effective anytime you are unable to make medical decisions, so it takes ones step beyond the living will or advance directive.
These and other options can help ensure your wishes are respected upon death or incapacitation. Consider John Kenney & Associates, PLLC in Poulsbo to be your full-service estate planning firm. Contact us at (360) 850-1049 for a consultation regarding your options.