Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Living Wills and Probate

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Estate Planning

In simple terms. estate planning is a process of determining what is going to occur to your estate during life and after death. The objective of any estate planning process is to establish a good estate plan which will adequately provide for the administration of an estate and provide for beneficiaries during life and after death.

Estate planning involves every aspect of your financial and personal life. You need to consider what can happen to you, your health and your family. That means you need to think about future needs and interests as you grow older; how you can best take care of yourself, the causes you support, and the people closest to you. In addition, if you own a business, estate planning also involves ensuring that your business will be in good hands after you retire or when you die. There’s a lot to consider about the legacy you leave.

It is important that estate planning services are tailored to the individual requirements of each client.

Estate planning includes:

  • Making lifetime gifts
  • Making charitable gifts
  • Income tax planning
  • Transferring assets at death
  • Transferring closely held businesses to other family members
  • Preparing Wills and Revocable or Irrevocable Trusts
  • Planning for Federal Estate and Gift Taxes, Generation Skipping tax, and Iowa Inheritance tax
  • Interstate probate of estates

The Will

Wills are legal documents that describe the desires of the person writing it with respect to the distribution of their property and who will raise their children after their death. If a person dies intestate, or without a will, state law determines who will get the person’s property. In many cases this leads to the distribution of property counter to the person’s wishes. Also, if there is no will a judge could decide who raises the person’s children. All persons without a will should consult an attorney and possibly have one drawn up.

It is very important for everyone to consider hiring an attorney to review their assets and plan their estate. One essential aspect of proper estate planning is having an attorney plan and write a will with their client’s help.

Living Will

This instrument is also known as an “Advanced Directive” and is a document designed to help a person share her wishes about medical treatment at some time in the future when you are unable to make your wishes known because of illness or injury.

The Trust

This is a legal arrangement where property is managed by one person (or persons, or organizations) for the benefit of another. The property is entrusted by the grantor(s) to people of their choice, the trustee(s). The trustees hold legal title to the trust property and are obliged to hold the property for the benefit of one or more individuals or organizations (the beneficiary). The trustees owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, who are the “beneficial” owners of the trust property.

The Living Trust

This type of trust is created during a person’s lifetime to manage property. There are a number of variations of this type of trust, but generally it means a trust created during the creator’s lifetime for the management and disposition of all, or substantially all, of the creator’s property. An attorney and his or her client should seriously consider whether to incorporate this type of trust into an estate plan as there are only specific situations where these trusts should be used.