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Estate Planning 101

What are the primary advantages of trusts?

As an Arizona resident trying to figure out the best way to preserve your wealth for your loved ones down the line, you may be exploring your options and trying to determine how to maximize what you leave behind. While a traditional will is one way to leave something behind for your loved ones, there are typically other options at your disposal, and one such option involves establishing a trust.

Trusts are fiduciary arrangements that allow you to leave assets behind to beneficiaries in a format that can result in considerable savings for them after your passing. Though trusts may prove a bit more complicated to create than a standard will, they offer several benefits that can mean your loved ones get to keep more of your hard-earned legacy for themselves. While trusts come in an array of different formats, there are certain advantages that most trusts offer that make them particularly appealing to many people. More specifically, trusts allow you to:

Remember to include pets in your estate plans

Estate plans can be so complicated that you may unintentionally exclude something important. Just covering the basics, such as a will and power of attorney, can be overwhelming enough. Having legal assistance can relieve much of the burden and help you realize areas you need to cover.

One of these areas is pets. If you see your animals, from cats to horses, as part of the family, then you need to treat them as such in your estate plans to ensure their well-being in case you become incapacitated or pass on. Otherwise, they can end up without a home or worse.

How to stop family squabbles over your estate plans

If you have already created your will and feel your estate plans are solid, you might be sadly mistaken. While your family should be grieving and coming to terms with your passing, they might end up fighting amongst themselves over the contents of your will. 

It is not uncommon for disputes to happen when sibling rivalry and other issues arise that cause everyone to want what you have left behind for someone else. Before you put your will and estate planning documents aside, consider the following pointers to help prevent disputes over them: 

Estate planning steps for parents of special needs children

If you are the parent of a special needs child, you face unique estate planning considerations. While estate planning is important for everyone, you face additional responsibilities, because it is up to you to create a plan that outlines who is to care for your disabled child and how if you are unable to do so.

The issues involved in creating an estate plan that includes a special needs child often differ from those traditionally faced by parents making end-of-life plans. As a parent of a disabled child, it could be important that you consider the following:

What happens to my Facebook after I die?

After you pass away, your physical presence is missed by your loved ones who are left mourning your loss. Often they will spend time looking at your old photos to remember you or see an item of yours they inherited and think of you fondly. But what happens to your digital presence after you die? How does that factor into the way you are remembered?

Social media is a ubiquitous part of many of our lives, regardless of age. For a number of us, it is the new photo album that used to sit on the coffee table or the journal where we wrote with our thoughts and witticisms. Those things are precious to the people we leave behind. Luckily, for most major social media platforms, not all is lost upon our death.

Can you protect your digital assets after death?

Most trusts deal with a customary set of assets - real estate, cars, stocks and bonds. 

In my firm I have placed a special focus on passing on unusual assets and addressing unusual situations. One of these is the Digital Asset Protection Trust.

Including a guardian in your estate plan

When planning for the future, there are many different scenarios to consider. One important piece of any estate plan is your wishes if you were to become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself any longer. Your will can state your wishes on some of these matters, but you can also appoint a guardian to make medical or financial decisions for you.

Estate Planning 101: Stuff

The late comedian George Carlin was known for his satirical observations of everyday things. One of his most famous performances was entitled "A Place for My Stuff," which was a brilliant commentary on how people view their belongings, regardless of its value. In honor of his memory and perhaps illuminating look how we view our assets, let's look at the first part of the definition of Estate Planning through this "George Carlin" lens.

Introduction to Estate Planning

So what exactly IS estate planning? When I tell people that I am an Estate Planning attorney, the usual response is "oh that's nice." The after a pause, they ask, "So what is it that you actually do? What exactly IS estate planning?" The short answer that I usually give is, "I create Wills, Trusts, and help clients with Estate Tax Planning." And that usually satisfies their polite yet fleeting curiosity. But for those of you who have stumbled across this blog, you are likely looking for a more in depth description of what an estate-planning attorney actually does. So, I will indulge you with a long answer. First of all, there are as many definitions of estate planning as there are estate-planning attorneys. And although there are more official resources, Wikipedia is easily accessible and where many go to get their information. So I'll start there: Wikipedia defines estate planning as: "the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person's life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses." Say what? That's a lot of fancy legal words. So to make it clear, I'll break this definition down into three parts, all of which will be explained in three separate upcoming blog posts....


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