While nobody wants to think about death or disability, establishing an estate plan is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Proper estate planning not only puts you in charge of your finances, it can also spare your loved ones the expense, delay, and frustration associated with managing your affairs when you become unable to do so yourself or pass away.
Estate planning can involve many things, but most experts agree that it boils down to thorough preparation and deliberate planning for whatever the future may hold. In particular, your estate plan should take into account your financial situation, your family constellation, your health care preferences and other elements that will affect what happens when you pass away or become incapacitated.
Schedule a time to consult with our experienced estate planning attorneys to review your family and financial situation and explain the various options available to you.
Every estate situation is different. Whether you are seeking a simple will or need guidance regarding complex estate planning instruments that address specific needs, our firm can help you make sure you are covered. At Guelzow & Ellefsen Law Offices, we help our clients plan for their futures, protect their assets, and meet the needs of their families through wise estate planning.
Our attorneys can help you answer important questions like:
- Does my will address all important aspects of my estate? Is it outdated?
- How do I avoid unnecessary taxes? What's the difference among estate taxes, income taxes and other types of taxes when it comes to my estate?
- Will a trust be beneficial for my family? If so, what type?
- Do I have adequate life insurance?
Providing For Incapacity
If you become incapacitated, you won’t be able to manage your own financial affairs. Many are under the mistaken impression that one's spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them if they become incapacitated. The truth is that in order for others to be able to manage your finances, they must petition a court to declare you legally incompetent. This process can be lengthy, costly, and stressful. Even if the court appoints the person you would have chosen, the individual may have to come back to the court every year and show how he or she is spending and investing each and every penny. If you want your family to be able to immediately take over for you, it's essential that you create the proper legal documents. Many people mistakenly think that a will can effectively protect you, but a will does not take effect until you die.
We can help you establish a healthcare directive that conforms to your final wishes. This will allow you to designate a person who will carry out your preferred medical treatment decisions, such as the use of extraordinary measures.
Providing for Minor Children
It is important that your estate plan address issues regarding the upbringing of your children. If your children are young, you may want to consider implementing a plan that will allow your surviving spouse to devote more attention to your children, without the burden of work obligations. You should name a person to manage your assets and a guardian to raise your children in the absence of both you and your spouse. If you fail to plan, the decision as to who will manage your finances and raise your children will be left to a court of law.
Another issue to consider during the planning process is whether you'd like your beneficiaries to receive your assets directly or have the assets placed in trust and distributed subject to conditions and circumstances such as age, need, and even incentives based on behavior and education. All too often, children receive substantial assets before they are mature enough to handle them in a prudent manner.
If you have been named personal representative of an estate and need assistance navigating the probate process, give our office a call. Guelzow & Ellefsen Law Offices has compassionately and affordably assisted many families through the probate process.
Giving To Charitable Organizations
Your estate plan can provide support for charitable organizations in a variety of ways, either during your lifetime or at your death. Depending on how your planned giving is set up, it may also allow you to receive a stream of income for life, earn a higher investment yield, or reduce your capital gains or estate taxes.