Drafting a will or setting up a trust is the best way to control the disposition of your assets after death or incapacitation. A complete plan not only manages who receives your property but also your preferences for medical care or decision-making should you lose the capacity to manage these items.
Wolfley & Wolfley, P.S. can help you plan for these events by creating an estate plan covering everything from incapacity and illness to how your loved ones are provided for after your death. Here is a description of the estate planning services we offer.
A will designates whom your property will pass to after your death and the individual who will manage your estate during probate. Your representative will ensure their payment during the probate process is done. Once that is finished, your representative distributes your property to those you designated. While the probate process often worries many of our clients, it is straightforward when you have a will; your wishes are unknown when you die without a will.
Putting your property in trust holds it for the benefit of another. You can place your property into a trust and designate a trustee to manage it now or create a testamentary trust that only comes into effect after you die.
A trustee will manage your property and any income it generates and distribute proceeds to beneficiaries. It is an excellent option if you want to create a process to benefit your loved ones now or prefer your property be distributed after you die rather than all at once. There are many types of trusts, and we can discuss those further with you at a consultation.
The most common type of trust is a Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust has more advanced features than a will and can avoid the probate process. This can save money and time, particularly for persons and families with a more complicated situation or property in multiple states where a probate would be required in each state.
Family Limited Partnership
A family limited partnership (FLP) is like any partnership, but its partners are all family members. This technique is often used to begin transferring your investment wealth to younger generations without giving them control. This technique will also frequently be allowed to “discount” the transfers of partnership interests to your children and grandchildren. This can greatly benefit higher net worth families close to or exceeding federal estate tax credit amounts.
Family Limited Liability Companies
Like a limited liability company, a family limited liability company (FLLC) insulates owners and assets from the company’s liabilities. The FLLC, like the FLP, is formed principally among family members. As members, your loved ones will receive distributions from their FLLC interest and may also qualify for a “discount,” the same as an FLP.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A power of attorney designates an agent to handle your affairs after becoming incapacitated. It is only effective while you are alive, and the agent is required to act in your best interest. There are two types of powers of attorney most frequently requested by our clients.
Limited Power of Attorney:
This power of attorney defines duties explicitly, unlike a general power of attorney that allows the agent to act within their unlimited discretion. For example, you may want your agent to only sign documents for you or manage your bank account but not give that agent access to your investments.
Living Wills & Advance Medical Directives
Living wills and advance medical directives make your health wishes known in case of incapacitation. They also designate the extent to which medical professionals should apply life-preserving technology. These documents make your wishes known, but some clients also wish to appoint a health care agent to make medical decisions when they cannot make them independently.
Durable Financial Power of Attorney:
An agent under a durable financial power of attorney can pay your expenses, invest your money, file and pay taxes, and perform other financial duties, including the operation of your small business. These duties can be as broad or narrow as you wish.
Health Care Power of Attorney:
You can think of this person as an enforcer. Not only will the agent make medical decisions when you cannot, but they will protect your wishes if a hospital does not honor your living will or advance directive. Be aware that you do not need to be terminally ill or in a coma to activate this power of attorney. This is effective anytime you cannot make medical decisions, so it takes one step beyond the living will or advance directive.
These and other options can help ensure your wishes are respected upon death or incapacitation. Consider Wolfley & Wolfley, P.S. in Port Angeles to be your full-service estate planning firm. Contact us at (360) 457-2794 for a consultation regarding your options.