Estate planning for the protection and ultimate distribution of your assets can be a complicated process fraught with sensitive subjects. Solid estate plans often include living or testamentary trusts that include comprehensive guidance for people / beneficiary planning in addition to the various tax, legal and technical aspects.  It is vital that loved ones are provided for in the manner you intend –  a plan that is attentive to particular beneficiary conditions, assets, objectives, disabilities, elder care needs, divorce, second marriages, etc.  Often children from multiple marriages and blended families of all types can make estate planning more difficult. To avoid assets ending up in unintended hands, certain strategies, employing both a well-drafted will and a trust (or several trusts) can avoid common pitfalls.

It is important to define your estate planning goals and organize your financial information. Below are some key questions clients should ask both themselves and their advisors:

  • How you want your assets distributed – to family, charity, friends, etc.?
  • Who will settle your estate – are there concerns regarding a family member’s ability to settle your estate?
  • Do you have concerns about family asset management capabilities?
  • Do you have a business that should continue as a going concern after you are gone?
  • Are there estate, inheritance or income tax issues with your estate?
  • Have you inventoried your assets; how are they titled (joint name, single name, etc.)?
  • Who are your advisors, attorneys, trustees, trust protectors, investment advisors?
  • Are your estate planning documents in one place, accessible to trusted advisors or family members?