Thoughtful estate planning can help most people, whether wealthy, middle-class or even people with limited means, depending on their situation.
What is Estate Planning?
Contrary to what many believe, estate planning is not simply about estate taxes. In fact, very few families need estate tax planning. Nor is estate planning simply about having a will. In most situations, a will by itself leaves a person exposed to several serious estate planning issues that occur during life or after death.
We view estate planning differently. Because each family has different needs, we believe in listening to you to understand your goals, objectives, hopes, and fears. After understanding your unique needs, we explain how estate planning applies to your situation, propose options for you to consider, and then carefully tailor your plan accordingly.
We define estate planning as giving you the ability to:
- Control your property while you’re alive and well
- Provide for yourself and your loved ones if you become incapacitated
- Give what you want, to whom you want, the way you want, when you want
- Minimize the impact of your taxes, professional fees, and court costs
What Makes a Good Estate Plan?
When developing an estate plan, we prepare several documents to fulfill our clients’ needs. However, effective planning is not about having the right documents; it’s about integrating them together and coordinating them with other planning vehicles (such as life insurance, 401K/IRA planning, and the beneficiary designation forms that control how these assets pass to heirs). When you eventually pass away and are “looking down from heaven,” do your assets pass to your loved ones the way you want? Or if you become incapacitated—a more common occurrence with people living longer—are your wishes followed and can your loved ones easily manage your estate?
For example, a mother of two toddlers divorced her abusive husband and took steps to get her life back. She went back to work, excelled there, and created a wonderful home for her children. She created a Will leaving everything to her children. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and she was killed in a car accident while the children were young teenagers. Matters became worse when the 401K death benefit went, not to the children, but to the abusive ex-husband, who was the beneficiary the mother designated on the original enrollment form. This occurred because 401K benefits pass by beneficiary designation and not by Will. The mother did not have a coordinated plan, and sadly, some assets went to the abusive ex-husband rather than to the teenaged children now going through life without their mother.
This is just one example of how a comprehensive, properly designed and implemented estate plan can benefit you and the people you love. For a consultation to learn more about how our Tucson estate planning law firm can address your particular needs and concerns, please contact us to schedule an appointment.