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Estate Planning

Revocable ("Living") Trusts
A trust is nothing more than a vehicle that can allow you to give your loved ones (the trust "beneficiaries") the benefit of your assets, but at the same time to maintain control over the use of those assets during your lifetime and after your death. Some trusts are established during your lifetime ("Living Trusts"), and some are created under your will and come into effect when you die ("Testamentary Trusts"). A trust can sometimes provide estate and gift tax benefits, but, more importantly, it will allow you to determine who will (and who will not) benefit from your property, and to what extent. A trust may last for a few years, or for a beneficiary's lifetime. The beneficiary may be entitled only to the income generated by the trust assets (its "principal" or "corpus"), or may be able to access the trust principal. Various names given to trusts, e.g., "credit shelter" trust, life insurance trust, charitable trust, etc., describe the purpose for which they are established. If you think that a trust may be of use to you, please come in and talk to me so that I can give you a clear understanding of how it may be helpful.

Revocable Living Trusts are an increasingly common tool in estate planning, and have one primary purpose - to enable your assets to pass outside of the probate process. They also put someone in place - your Trustee - to take care of your affairs should you become unable to do so. They do involve some degree of paperwork and title changing, and are more expensive to set up than wills, but, in the right situation, they can be beneficial.

The purpose of estate planning is to provide peace of mind by helping you make important end-of-life decisions and plan for the transfer of your wealth upon death. When you do the planning, you control the results. Once created, the plan should be reviewed (and if necessary, revised) on a periodic basis, and at any time your circumstances change significantly. Moreover, the law changes - particularly tax law - from time to time, so you need to keep on top of the situation.

When you meet with me to discuss estate planning, I will review your current estate situation, and examine any existing instruments that have been prepared for that purpose. We will discuss all areas and options - wills, trusts (all kinds), business planning, General and Health Care Powers of Attorney, the need for guardianships - and I will give you my opinion as to whether something new needs to be done from this point forward. The process is a collaborative one, and may take some time to perfect. I try to make it as comfortable and low-key as possible. I will give you my honest opinion and never pressure you to do something with which you are uncomfortable. Developing a professional relationship of trust is very important to me.


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