Estate planning allows you to preserve your legacy and values and to transfer your assets according to your wishes. Proper estate planning is very much a collaborative process and involves identifying your values, goals and vision for your future and that of your loved ones. It involves creating a framework and monitoring your plan to ensure that it remains fresh and relevant as your life, circumstances and the laws change. At Cochran Law Group, we help you design, implement and optimize all aspects of your estate plan.
There may be any number of reasons that you will want to make sure to have an estate plan in place. You may need a Trust to protect assets for your children, or to keep your assets out of probate. You may want to reduce or eliminate gift or estate taxes, or to plan for a family member who has special needs. You may want to ease your family’s burden and provide security for your own needs in the event you are disabled and require assistance with health care and financial decisions. You may seek to protect your children’s inherited assets from creditors or divorcing spouses. The future of your assets, and perhaps your own and your family’s well-being, lies in the careful planning of your estate. Specific estate planning goals and objectives, regardless of age or familial status, should be addressed by everyone.
Estate Planning Overview
The estate planning process brings together the financial and legal components of an estate with the emotional considerations that our clients want to impart to their beneficiaries. We work with clients having a variety of backgrounds, including those whose wealth is anchored in sophisticated investment portfolios, closely held businesses, real estate holdings and generational Trusts.
Our clients often want to protect their assets and pass them to beneficiaries upon their death but are often uncertain of what type of estate planning tools best suit their needs. At Cochran Law Group, we explain the advantages and disadvantages of different estate planning strategies and are able to optimize an estate plan to best meet each client’s goals. We spend the time necessary to make sure our clients are comfortable with and understand all aspects of their estate plan.
A traditional estate plan involves passing assets according to a person’s Last Will and Testament in a judicial process called probate. This includes filing the Will with the Court and providing a detailed inventory and accounting of assets as the Executor distributes the assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will. Everything that the Executor files with the Court becomes part of the public record.
At Cochran Law Group, we approach estate planning by incorporating revocable Trusts at the center of the estate plan. By developing a Trust-based plan, you can safeguard your legacy and minimize the paperwork, cost and time associated with the probate process. This allows your Trustee to access your funds immediately in order to pay any final debts or expenses, and to distribute or position your money in accordance with the terms of the Trust, all in an efficient and private manner.
For clients who have accumulated significant wealth or who have unique planning concerns, we are able to prepare estate plans that incorporate one or more of the following advanced planning concepts:
- Marital Trusts
- Disclaimer Planning
- Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts (IDGTs)
- Spousal Lifetime Access Trusts (SLATs)
- Dynasty Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts (SNTs)
- Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts (ILITs)
- Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs)
- Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRTs)
- Charitable Lead Trusts (CLTs)
- Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs)
- Intra-family Sales and Loans
- Private Foundations
Documents to Protect You During Incapacity
Financial Power of Attorney
A financial power of attorney provides your designated attorney-in-fact with broad authority to act for you with respect to various transactions, including banking, real estate and investment transactions.
Health Care Directive
The purpose of a health care directive (sometimes called a medical directive) is to give someone the specific authority to make health care decisions on your behalf (including decisions regarding anatomical gifts) in the event you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.
A Living Will (not to be confused with a Last Will and Testament) is intended to alert your family and physicians that, in the event of a terminal illness or permanent vegetative state, your intention is not to have the dying process artificially prolonged.
Beneficiary Designations and Asset Titling
Beneficiary designations and titling of assets are an integral part of the overall estate plan. Ensuring that your beneficiary designations are updated will guarantee that the accounts or assets pass to your Trust or your intended beneficiaries. We will work with you to update titling of all accounts to make sure beneficiary designations are correct. This is arguably as important as the estate planning itself since the beneficiary designations will control the disposition of the assets and having outdated or incorrect designations could lead to having to probate the assets and/or conflict amongst family members.
Contact Cochran Law Group Today
Cochran Law Group uses a wide breadth of sophisticated estate planning techniques to address your estate planning goals and objectives. In so doing, we can help to protect the assets you have accumulated over your lifetime and help you maintain control over important decisions regarding your health and finances. Contact one of our attorneys today to learn more about how we can help you develop an estate plan that meets your specific needs.