A well-executed estate plan enables you to manage your assets for tax efficiency and wealth retention while providing the satisfaction of knowing that your financial affairs are in order for the benefit of your heirs.
An estate encompasses everything you own—your home, your possessions, your assets, etc. In addition to a retirement plan, you should construct a detailed procedure on what will happen to your estate when you pass on through wills, trusts, and other legal documents.
While Craig James Financial Services is not a law firm and thus cannot create legal wills and trusts, as a comprehensive wealth management firm we believe that it is necessary to review all aspects of your financial profile and offer financial advice regarding your estate. We work with a team of professionals to make sure your entire financial plan is in order so you and your loved ones are protected.
What an Estate Plan Should Include
A comprehensive estate plan includes a plan for your internment and the disbursement of your assets and property. This estate plan should enable you to manipulate your assets for tax efficiency and wealth retention to maximize the amount passed on to your family and minimize losses to the government.
Your estate plan should incorporate these strategic elements:
- Power of Appointment: Gives someone the authority to dispose of certain property under the will.
- Advance Directives: Directs your medical and end-of-life care if you become incapacitated.
- Living Will: Outlines specific instructions for your medical treatment if you cannot make those decisions yourself. A living will is often used along with a Medical Power of Attorney or Health Care Proxy to designate someone to make health care decisions on your behalf.
- Power of Attorney (Financial Power of Attorney): This document designates a person who will make financial decisions and other legal acts on your behalf if you are unable to do so while you are still alive. Your agent may access bank accounts, manage real estate or other assets, file income tax returns or apply for benefits on your behalf.
- Other: Funeral plans, designated personal property, beneficiary designations, etc.
- Wills and Trusts: Allow you to spell out how you would like your estate handled and your property distributed.
Wills and Trusts Allow You to Handle Your Estate and Property
Your will (last will and testament) should say how you would like your property and assets distributed upon your death, name an executor of your estate, and provide for payment of any costs incurred in the estate’s settlement. In the absence of a will, the state will determine the disposition of your assets. Property distributed through your will is subject to probate, which can be a time-consuming and costly process. It is very important to treat your will as a living document and to keep it updated.
A trust differs from a will in that it is an actual legal entity. Like a will, a trust specifies how you want your property distributed, but you can customize the distribution of your estate with a trust. A trust also offers the added advantages of property management and probate avoidance. There are several types of trusts, each adding their own protections and restrictions.
Talk to Craig James Financial Services, LLC about a comprehensive estate plan that will minimize taxes and maximize wealth retention. For a complimentary consultation and additional information about estate planning, call: 631.393.2888.
*Neither United Planners nor its representatives offer tax or legal advice.