Estate planning is more than ‘making a will.’
Everyone knows they need a will. Everyone knows, at some level, what happens if they die without one. There’s always a famous person in the news who died without a will to reinforce the point. The chaos that ensues is public and stays that way for years.
A will – even with a trust – without estate planning is like trying to build a house without framework. Failure to plan can lead to challenges and years of litigation.
Challenges and litigation are not the legacy anyone wants to leave their family.
The attorneys at Hopkins Centrich Law have dedicated themselves to collaborate with clients to produce estate plans that are comprehensive, coordinated, and integrated while including contingencies for family, law, and tax changes.
Estate plans that do what the client wants and needs. Estate Plans that leave a welcomed legacy.
Starting an Estate Plan
The word ‘holistic’ has been overused for years, but sometimes it’s the only word that fits. As it does for estate planning. It is hard to overstate how important it is to consider a myriad of seemingly unrelated facts and feelings in designing an estate plan that will accomplish what our clients need it to
It begins with communication. No one wants to contemplate their mortality. It’s difficult to talk about for even the most pragmatic of clients. Making provisions for family members, a business, a home is never as simple as ‘divvying up the assets.’
There are many considerations – state and federal laws, taxes, family situations, emotions - and every decision results in a new set of issues.
Hopkins Centrich Law has years of experience guiding clients through the labyrinth that estate planning can become. Our ability to relate and empathize with our clients is as important as our deep knowledge of the law and taxes.
We know estate planning is as much an art as a science. It can be emotional. It can be complex - even our most sophisticated clients will find some instruments, some taxes, some solutions arcane and/or complicated. At first, we pride ourselves on our ability to make the most complex estates and solutions easy to understand.
Estate Planning Considerations
Planning an estate means decisions must be made. From what happens to the house to who takes over a business to who to name as executor(s). There’s a lot to navigate. It takes technical expertise, empathy, and practical wisdom to successfully take a client from an idea of what they want to a plan that makes it a reality. Some of those decisions:
- Who should receive your assets – today, tomorrow, in the event a spouse or other heir predeceases you? When should children receive their inheritance? Immediately? At certain ages?
- Should you be gifting? Or pursuing other tax reduction strategies?
- Is there a business succession plan?
- Do you support charities that you want remembered?
- If you are incapacitated, who will make financial and/or medical decisions for you?
- Who do you want as your fiduciaries – executor, trustee, guardians?
- How can you protect the estate from a spendthrift?
- How to deal with retirement, 401(k) accounts and other qualified monies.
This is just a handful of the issues and decisions we work through with our clients.
Estate Planning Documents
The end result of those decisions are the testamentary documents. They can include:
- Health Care Proxy/Living Will
- Power of Attorney.
- Revocable Trust
- Irrevocable Trust
- Charitable Trust
There are, of course, many variations but the result is always the same: documents that are tailored to fit our clients wishes.
Every plan is unique and is never static. Plans are meant to be reviewed and altered as needed to keep up with changes – tax and probate laws, family changes, a new business, an old one sold, in short, all the things that keep life interesting.
The attorneys at Hopkins Centrich Law are your guides through the estate planning process. We listen, we understand, we make the complex simple.
The results are grounded in law, protected against taxes, creative while efficient, and, most importantly, do what our clients want – and need - them to do.