Estate planning can be one of the most important things a person can do for their family. Setting up a plan to determine (1) who will be in charge of your affairs if you are incapacitated or deceased and (2) who will receive your assets upon your passing will ensure that your final property and health care wishes are honored, and that loved ones are provided for in your absence. Though often overlooked or put off in favor of more immediate concerns, a comprehensive estate plan can resolve a number of legal questions and family disputes that arise whenever anyone dies: What is the state of the decedent’s financial affairs? What real and personal property do they own? Who gets what? How much tax will need to be paid in order to transfer property ownership? What funeral arrangements are appropriate? Will the Probate Court need to be involved?
Stewart and Bruss, PC’s mission is to create estate plans for our clients that (1) honor our clients’ intent, (2) maximize the efficiency of implementing their estate plan upon incapacity or death; and 3) minimize the costs associated with advanced age, and taxes associated with eventual asset transfer to loved ones.
HONOR OUR CLIENT’S INTENT
Our firm spends time with our clients to make sure we have an understanding of who they wish to be in charge of their legal, financial, or medical affairs in the event that they are incapacitated or deceased. Additionally, we spend time with our clients to understand how they would like their assets distributed to their families and loved ones in the event that they were to pass away. We take direction from our clients on these issues and assist them in coming to a decision on these very important matters. Our mission is to honor our client’s intent by preparing the documentation necessary to achieve that intent.
A primary objective when maximizing the efficiency of achieving the intent of our clients is to avoid the probate process. Our job as estate plan attorneys is to determine efficient ways to honor the intent of our clients. By using estate plan tools such as trusts, wills, beneficiary designations, or joint ownership of assets, we can implement a plan that will ensure that the assets of our clients pass to their loved ones and family members in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, we implement estate plan tools such as powers of attorney for legal and medical decisions to ensure that loved ones can make decisions and act on behalf of our incapacitated clients.
MINIMIZE COSTS AND TAXES
One of the most important, and most complicated goals of a good estate plan is to minimize costs and taxes associated with advanced age. A good estate plan will minimize the potential costs and expenses that our clients may incur as they transition into an assisted living arrangement, or a nursing home. In the event that our clients need assistance in their home, or placement in a nursing home, a thorough review of the health circumstances and assets of our clients can help determine what costs and expenses can be supplemented by Medicaid, Medicare, and Veterans Benefits. This is an area of the law that can be very complicated and intimidating. Stewart and Bruss, PC takes pride in assisting our clients in navigating these overwhelming issues.
Another important goal is to minimize the tax implications of transferring assets to loved ones upon the passing of our clients. The nature of assets has grown more complicated than ever before. Our clients have IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401ks, 403bs, 457s, Annuities, etc. Each of these assets have unique tax circumstances and if they are improperly addressed in an estate plan, thousands of tax dollars may be unnecessarily be paid in taxes. The attorneys of Stewart and Bruss, PC do a thorough review of our clients assets to ensure that the amount of taxes paid when their assets are transferred to their loved ones is as minimal as possible.