Estate Planning (and Life Planning)
Estate and life planning is more than just having a Last Will and Testament and must be individually tailored to the individual’s family and property interests, goals, and wishes. A good estate and life plan will:
- Ensure that property will be preserved during the individual’s lifetime (asset protection or Medicaid planning);
- Ensure that property will pass as the owner wishes during his or lifetime and/or after death;
- Minimizes potential estate tax liability or provides for a means of payment of estate taxes; and
- Minimizes potential costs of administration of the estate after death.
A critical part of the estate and life plan often overlooked is the need to have Advance Directives in place to appoint trusted individuals to manage property and help with personal care decisions in the case of incapacity. Not appointing surrogates to manage property or personal affairs often leads to a costly and stressful guardianship proceeding in Supreme Court. In many cases guardianship would have been unnecessary if only the individual had planned for the possibility of incapacity.