One of the beautiful things about estate planning is the range of options for achieving specific goals. Whether you have a modest estate or a multitude of complex assets, there are estate planning tools to help ensure that your needs are met in later years and that your assets are protected for future generations.
Drafting an enforceable will is a basic step, but you can go further to refine your plan.
If you haven't yet created a will, you should do so with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney. If you have created a will, make sure it is up to date and matches your current financial and family situation. Circumstances in life change, and when changes affect your estate, your will should be updated accordingly.
Beyond a last will and testament, you can include other documents in your estate plan. For example, powers of attorney can be assigned to give a trusted person the authority to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf in the event that you become unable to make those decisions yourself.
Likewise, you can be sure to complete a health care directive, which clarifies your wishes with regard to accepting or refusing medical treatment in the event that you become incapacitated.
Trusts are excellent estate planning tools, even for modest estates.
There are many different kinds of trusts that can be designed to achieve your specific estate planning goals. For example, a trust can help keep your estate assets out of probate, as well as minimize taxes on the estate.
You can also set up a trust to provide for a family member with special needs, or to provide for a family member who isn't very good at handling money. In addition to avoiding taxes and probate, a great thing about trusts is that you can determine how and when assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
Don't forget about your options for safeguarding real estate investments.
Depending on your individual circumstances, one effective way to protect a real estate investment is to form a real estate LLC. For more on that, please see our previous post on the benefits of creating a real estate LLC in Hawaii.