Thursday, June 29, 2017

What is the Difference Between an Estate Plan and a Will

Estate plans and wills are powerful documents. They grant you the ability to distribute your estate, appoint guardianship, pick your heirs, and give your most valuable belongings to your favorite people. It's essential you have it in mind that a will is only a part of an estate plan, not an estate plan. A complete estate plan entails more than just a will. It should include an advanced directive, a power of attorney, and, if you so choose, trusts for your children, favorite charity, grandchildren or even a beloved pet.

Here is a concise explanation of each. An estate plan and a will grants you control over your assets, health decision, and a peace of mind for your family.
Estate planning allows you to prepare and forecast, during your life, for the supervision and control of your estate during your life and after death, maximizing gift, estate, and income tax in the process. By contrast, a will is a document that guides who will take your property after your death and it selects a legal delegate to ensure your wishes are carried out. An estate plan helps you plan for incapacity, reduce and eliminate uncertainties over the handling of a probate. It also minimizes the worth of the estate by decreasing tax and some other expenses. The ultimate goal of estate planning can be determined by the specific goals of the client and may be as simple or complex as the client's needs dictate

It should be clear that an estate plan involves the trusts, will, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, property ownership (joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety), gift, and powers of attorney. It is the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney. In contrast, a will entails a property that is in your name when you die. A will never covers property possessed in joint ownership. A will never covers property possessed in joint ownership. For a property to be included in a will, it must be put in the estate plan. An estate plan covers every property that has been handed over to a trust. Some special decisions like whether to be buried or cremated can also be part of a will. It should be noted that some complex estate plans may even cover winding up a business.

A will go into effect only after you die, while an estate plan takes effect as soon as you create it. This implies that an estate plan contains documents like a trust, will, etc. which takes effect as soon as you create it. A will passes through probate. That implies that a court supervises the execution of the will and makes sure the will is authentic, and the property is shared the exact way the deceased wanted. A will permits you to name a guardian for your children and specify how your funeral should be. For an estate plan, you can plan for disability or provide savings on taxes. Your elder law attorney can tell you how best to use a will in your estate plan.
Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Importance of Estate Planning

Eѕtаtе рlаnning iѕ a term that is thrоwn аrоund a lot. And аlthоugh everyone agrees you ѕhоuld dо it, what is involved in the process is never ԛuitе explained in thоrоugh dеtаil. Pеrhарѕ thаt iѕ why ѕо mаnу people рut off thе tаѕk оf planning an estate and writing a will until thе last minute оr, wоrѕе, until it iѕ tоо lаtе. Lеt'ѕ detail not оnlу what еѕtаtе planning is but аlѕо what the еnd gоаlѕ оf planning уоur еѕtаtе should bе.

Eѕtаtе Planning, Whаt Is It?

Eѕtаtе рlаnning spans a rаngе оf fiеldѕ, inсluding thе drаfting оf a will, establishing trusts, reducing tаxеѕ, advance medical inѕtruсtiоnѕ, inѕtituting powers аttоrnеу, appointing truѕtееѕ, аnd buѕinеѕѕ succession planning. It involves сrеаting a fullу detailed рlаn thаt transfers уоur аѕѕеtѕ to thеir intended bеnеfiсiаriеѕ upon death. Whilе it ѕhоuld be wеll-ѕtruсturеd, it must аlѕо make rооm for flexibility.

Gоаlѕ аnd Rеwаrdѕ

Thе goals of planning уоur еѕtаtе and сrаfting a will аrе tо rеduсе lеgаl рrоblеmѕ, avoid expensive litigаtiоn, аnd rеduсе tаxеѕ. This, fоr аll its lеgаl complexity, rеԛuirеѕ the assistance аnd guidance аnd еxреrtiѕе of ѕеаѕоnеd lеgаl рrоfеѕѕiоnаlѕ whо ѕресiаlѕ in wills and еѕtаtеѕ. Cоmрrеhеnѕivе finаnсiаl and asset mаnаgеmеnt is оffеrеd during thiѕ рrосеѕѕ tо ensure that nо lоорhоlеѕ are lеft untiеd аnd nо dеtаilѕ аrе lеft оut, whiсh mау рrоvе to dеtrimеntаl tо thеѕе gоаlѕ in the еnd.

Before You Start Plаnning Your Eѕtаtе

Yоu will nееd a lawyer whоm уоu trust. If уоu dо not already have a lawyer, find оnе in уоur аrеа who ѕресiаlizеѕ in еѕtаtеѕ аnd willѕ, ѕресifiсаllу, tо hеlр уоu сrеаtе a solid ѕtrаtеgу that fitѕ уоur uniԛuе needs.  Don't bе timid! If уоu аrе not ѕurе уоu hаvе fоund thе right legal representation, trеаt уоur firѕt meeting with thеm as an intеrviеw. Ask questions and don't be аfrаid to ask fоr rеfеrеnсеѕ from сurrеnt сliеntѕ.

In рlаnning your еѕtаtе аnd creating a will, you have a vаriеtу оf орtiоnѕ, which you саn оnlу utilize with thе hеlр of  an attorney specializing in estate planning. It is wise tо соntасt legal rерrеѕеntаtiоn in your area as they will have the best understanding of  local laws that need to be recognized. Find a lаwуеr who ѕресiаlizеd in the аrеа оf willѕ and estate planning as they can guide you through the lоорhоlеѕ thаt саn еithеr nеgаtivеlу оr positively imрасt your efforts аnd gоаlѕ. A great lаwуеr will hеlр you tо dеviѕе a ѕtrаtеgу thаt is fullу in уоur fаvor and tаkеѕ full advantage оf аll estate lаwѕ.

In our next installment on estate planning we will go more in depth into the process and how it will affect your heirs and probate as it affects your end goal of transferring your assets.

Learn more about attorney Sean J. Nichols and the legal services he provides for clients including: estate planning, elder law issues, Medicaid planning, elder care, probate law, guardianships, and power of attorney (POA) at  To contact the offices of Sean J Nichols call 734.386.0224 today.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Planning your estate when you've got no children or heirs

Having no heirs or surviving spouse can make estate-planning decisions more difficult. Appropriately directing assets involves naming beneficiaries on financial accounts such as 401(k) plans and life insurance policies. Whom to appoint as a trustworthy health-care proxy or power of attorney is also tricky. Certified financial planner Mike Keeler has a client, a retired teacher, who saved diligently for her golden years and will leave behind a sizable estate when she passes away. Her estate-planning challenge, though, is that she has no children. It's a situation financial advisors come across frequently: Childless clients who are unsure what should happen to assets they leave behind or whom to appoint as their proxy decision-maker. "Sometimes there is no close family, and the person doesn't know who to leave their estate to," said Keeler, CEO of Peak Financial Solutions. "They also don't know who to name as executor of their will or who they trust to make decisions for them if they are [incapacitated while still living]. These can be tough decisions." While specific data on estate planning among the childless is hard to come by, studies show that most people fail to put in place even the most basic part of estate planning: a will. For instance, a 2016 Rocket Lawyer study conducted by Harris Poll shows that 64 percent of Americans lack that basic document. The problem with having no will (called dying intestate) is that your state's court system decides who gets your assets. And on top of property-related considerations are other important estate-planning components, regardless of marital or parental status. But decisions that can be hard enough for people with family ties or close friends become harder for those without those relationships. When that's the case, advisors start by encouraging people to focus on their interests and tie them to charitable giving. "I find out what they're passionate about," Keeler said. "When they start thinking about the possibilities and the gears start turning in their heads, it can be a fun conversation." Keeler's client, the retired teacher, decided to establish a foundation to award scholarships to college-bound kids who attended the at-risk middle school where she was a teacher. The scholarships will come with certain stipulations, all determined by the client. Keeler encouraged her to immediately establish her legacy so she can enjoy it while still living. The plan, Keeler said, is for the foundation to award its first scholarship this year. "I told her if you start gifting money now, you get to see the fruits of your labor," Keeler said. "People don't have to wait until they're gone to do this." Part of appropriately directing assets involves naming beneficiaries on financial accounts such as 401(k) plans and life insurance policies. Be aware that those accounts do not pass through the will. For instance, if you named your ex-husband as the beneficiary on your 401(k) plan and never updated that information, he will get that money even if your will names your new spouse as your only heir. An even trickier task than asset considerations can be choosing someone to have medical power of attorney. That designation lets the chosen person make important health-care decisions if you cannot. Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and service. Privacy Policy. Married couples typically name each other as their health-care proxy. But after the death of one party to the marriage, the living spouse with no children faces the challenge of naming someone else. Same goes for childless singles who have never married. "They might feel like they are putting someone in a really difficult position," said Justin Halverson, co-founder of Great Waters Financial. "Or they don't know who they would trust to make such an intimate decision" when it comes to medical-care choices, he said. Another helpful tool is a living will, which states your wishes if you are on life support or suffer from a terminal condition. This helps guide your proxy's decision-making. In addition to a health-care power of attorney, it's important to give someone durable power of attorney to act as your agent if you become unable to tend to your finances. Advisors say many clients name different people to handle each health-care and financial decision. Additionally, naming an executor for your estate — regardless of its size — can be challenging. "Doing something is better than doing nothing. Don't let the fact that you don't know the perfect way ... make you do nothing at all." -Justin Halverson, co-founder of Great Waters Financial Sometimes called a personal representative, the executor is the person legally charged with handling your estate. Duties can range from filing a will with the court to selling your house, paying your debts and distributing assets as directed. That individual will be asked to take on the responsibility no matter what else is going on in his or her life. This should be someone you not only trust, but a person with the capacity to handle the responsibility. Halverson said that if you struggle with naming someone, it's worth talking to your bank's trust division to explore naming the bank as executor or setting up a trust. Be aware that while family members or friends typically serve as executor for free, banks will charge a fee. The good news is that once you make these decisions, you don't have to think about your estate plan too often. Advisors say you should check it every three to five years unless you face a major life change. "The important thing is to document what you want to happen and review it periodically," said CFP Kevin Meehan, regional president of Wealth Enhancement Group. "Relationships with people and charities can change." Here are 10 financial terms everyone should know Özgür Donmaz | E+ | Getty Images For instance, one of Meehan's clients initially planned to leave a good chunk of her assets to nieces and nephews. But, he said, she recently changed her will. "That relationship has changed over time, and as [the nieces and nephews] are less interested in her, she's become less interested in giving her assets to them," Meehan said. While estate planning might be about as appealing as a root canal, advisors say that putting a plan in place gives you control that you otherwise won't have. "Doing something is better than doing nothing," said Halverson of Great Waters Financial. "Don't let the fact that you don't know the perfect way to do [an estate plan] make you do nothing at all." — By Sarah O'Brien, special to Original source: Original Author: Sarah O'Brien Original Date: May 31 2017