Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Estate planning is the process of deciding how to divide and transfer your property after your death. Your estate plan provides detailed instructions for transferring your property, who will receive it, and what they will receive.

What Is an Estate Plan and Why Do You Need One?

Your estate is made up of everything you own, including your home, car, and other real estate, your retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and checking and savings accounts, and your personal possessions.

A properly prepared estate plan ensures that your property is passed on to the people and organizations you care about. An estate plan also provides peace of mind by avoiding fighting between family members, and knowing that you will have control over your final days.

While estate planning involves considering your own mortality, estate planning is not just for the elderly. In fact, a good estate plan is just as important for a young family with a modest income as it is for wealthy people who have retired.

What Does an Estate Plan Include?

An estate plan identifies who will receive your property, what they will receive, and when they will receive it. To meet these goals, an estate plan usually includes:

  • Last will and testament. Your will identifies your assets, often in broad categories, and specifies how they will be divided when you die. Your will also names the executor of your estate and the guardian for any minor children.
  • Durable power of attorney. A power of attorney appoints someone else to make legal, business, and financial decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself. A power of attorney ceases to be effective after a person’s death.
  • Healthcare power of attorney. A healthcare power of attorney identifies someone who will make medical and healthcare-related decisions for you if you cannot make them yourself.
  • Living will and advanced directives. A living will and advanced directives tell people your wishes for end-of-life care. They often specify any extraordinary life-saving measures, medications, and medical treatment you do or do not wish to receive.

Do You Need a Trust as Part of Your Estate Plan?

Like a will, a trust can be used to specify how your estate will be divided. A trust can offer more flexibility and can be used to address more complicated estate planning situations.

A trust establishes a fiduciary relationship between the trust-maker, the trustee, and the trust beneficiaries. In some cases, the trust-maker, trustee, and beneficiary are the same person. When the trust-maker dies or becomes incapacitated, a successor trustee manages the trust for the benefit of another beneficiary. Other times, assets are placed in a trust and managed by the trustee on behalf of the beneficiary.

Unlike a will, which only applies when a person has died, a trust can be used to transfer assets before the trust-maker dies. Trusts are commonly used to minimize estate taxes. And unlike a will, which is public record and must be approved by the probate court, assets transferred by trust remain private.

Different kinds of trusts can be used to address different estate planning situations, but they usually fall into the following basic categories:

Living or Testamentary

An inter vivos trust or living trust benefits the trust-maker during their lifetime. The trust-maker, trustee, and beneficiary are often the same person. When the trust-maker dies, a successor trustee is appointed and trust assets are transferred to the beneficiaries.

A testamentary trust is created through a person’s will. Assets are transferred to the trust when the trust-maker dies.

Revocable or Irrevocable

A revocable trust can be changed by the grantor during their lifetime.

An irrevocable trust cannot be changed once it is established.

A living trust can be revocable or irrevocable. A testamentary trust can only be irrevocable.

The Kulick Law Firm, LLC: Protecting What Matters Most

At The Kulick Law Firm, LLC, we offer a full range of estate planning services to help you and your family meet your financial goals and leave a legacy for future generations.

From our offices in Exeter, Pennsylvania, we represent hard-working families throughout Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.

Whether you are retired and need assistance planning how to pass your estate on to future generations, or are a young family who needs help creating a plan to protect and care for your young children, The Kulick Law Firm is here to help.

Our attorneys provide peace of mind by preparing an estate plan that will protect your family and avoid a costly and time-consuming intestacy process or court battle.

We invite you to learn more by reading answers to Frequently Asked Questions and testimonials from our clients. Meet our team, then contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.