Whether you’re planning the parameters of your future medical care or establishing support for loved ones upon your death, estate planning attorneys at Smith Estates & Trusts, LLC can help with all aspects of trusts and estates issues, including:
• Comprehensive Estate Planning
• Estate Tax Liability
• Revocable Trusts
• Powers of Attorney
• Healthcare Directives
• Beneficiary Deeds
• Last Will and Testament
The goal of estate planning is to provide for the accumulation, management and preservation of assets during your lifetime, and a plan for the distribution of your assets at the time of your passing. Additionally, proper and thorough estate planning will address the issues of disability or incapacity during lifetime. We stress this aspect of the process in every case situation. Estate planning, especially in more complicated cases, can involve the “team” approach that may involve you, your estate planning attorney, financial advisor, accountant or CPA, life insurance professional and personal banker. In cases where it is necessary, we will interface and consult with your other advisors in order to develop comprehensive solutions.
It is critical that you establish short and long term goals for asset accumulation and preservation. Investment, insurance and proper tax planning is instrumental to provide for your financial future and security for you and your family members in the event of a disability or death. A minimal estate plan should include a Last Will and Testament, General Durable Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Healthcare Directive.
A Will can name guardians for minor children, an administrator for your estate assets, percentage of distribution to your beneficiaries, as well as the age of distribution. A durable power of attorney will name an individual or entity to manage your financial and other general affairs in the event of your disability or incapacity. Durable powers attorney terminate upon your death. A durable power of attorney for health care and health care directive, also known as a “living will,” names a person or persons to make decisions concerning your health care in the event you incapacitated and unable to make those decisions yourself.
Depending upon your goals, the nature and character of your assets, the dollar amount of your estate, and a desire to avoid probate, a more extensive estate plan may be required that involves the use of trusts. The value of your estate at the time of your death determines whether or not your estate is subject to estate tax. Depending on the size of your estate, federal and state death taxes can reduce your estate by as much as 50% of its total value over any exempt amount then provided for by law. Further, without proper planning, administration and probate fees could cost your estate unnecessary expense, depending upon the circumstances. Estate planning is essential to reduce the fees and costs to your estate in order to maximize the distribution to your beneficiaries.
As you can see there are many items to consider when preparing an estate plan:
· Will your estate be subject to estate tax?
· How can you minimize taxes on “qualified” assets?
· Have you named beneficiaries of your assets or will those assets allow a beneficiary
· Can you avoid probate?
· Is probate avoidance necessary under a given set of facts?
· Have you named a person or entity to administer and distribute your assets upon
· Are your beneficiaries minors?
· Is there a certain age that you wish your beneficiaries to receive the assets?
· Can your beneficiary manage his or her financial affairs?
These are a few of the questions that would be addressed and answered at a consultation in our office. There are no “standard” or “stock” answers to these questions, as many believe. We prefer to handle a person’s planning on an individualized basis, taking into account all relevant factors. The approach or solution will be different in some way, in case.
Serving St. Charles, Warren Lincoln, St. Louis Counties and surrounding areas in Missouri. Call Smith Estates & Trusts, LLC at (636) 949-3701 or contact us online to schedule a free initial estate planning consultation.
Please feel free to download and complete our Estate Planning Worksheet. This form will help you provide the information we will need in order to evaluate your estate planning needs and prepare documents necessary to fulfill your wishes for your heirs. We will discuss much of this information at the time of your consultation. Please contact our office if you have any questions or concerns while completing the form.