Estate planning may look very simple on its face. At its simplest form, it can consist solely of a traditional last will and testament. But is this enough? Is this the most important thing? A practical approach to estate planning is one that focuses on the client’s goals. Estate planning can include simple powers of attorney, wills, and include revocable living trusts, irrevocable life insurance trusts, charitable remainder trusts, intentionally defective grantor trusts, qualified personal residence trusts, LLCs, buy sell agreements, among a number of other tools.
Because as estate planners we have so many tools at our disposable, the identification of the estate planning goals is the first place to start when deciding what tools to use. And since each document serves such a unique purpose, there is no single MOST important document. For many people whose goal is to provide for decision making abilities during incapacity, avoid probate, and provide a clean distribution for their family, the necessary documents to achieve those goals are a revocable living trust, pour of over will, financial power of attorney, health care power of attorney, living will, and HIPAA Authorization form. Each document serves a different goal and is no more important than the other. What is most important is that you are able to identify the goals that are most important to you, and put together a comprehensive estate plan that meets those goals, whether it is incapacity planning during your lifetime, probate avoidance, tax planning, or some other goal, often a combination of a number of documents provide the most complete estate plan.
For more information on identifying goals and establishing the right estate plan for you and your loved ones, visit www.sinclairprosserlaw.com. There you will find a wealth of information in the form of reports, articles, newsletters, blogs and estate planning questions and an estate planning worksheet.