At MEP we believe that an educated client is the best client. We want our clients to fully understand, to the level which they are comfortable, the basics of the various types of estate planning tools which will go into your individual plan.
Advance Medical Directives (Living Will)
What are Advance Medical Directives? Advance Medical Directives, also called a Living Will, is a written statement that tells doctors and health care personnel what your specific wishes are regarding various types of medical treatments.
Why are Advance Medical Directives important for your estate plan? Your will to live may depend on your Advance Medical Directive. Allow MEP to work with you to properly, clearly and validly express your wishes if two physicians determine that you are either have a terminal condition, are in a permanent vegetative state or in an irreversible coma. By choosing your options in advance, you allow yourself to have control over what happens to you at this stage in life and it also relieves your loved ones from having to make such a difficult decision for you.
Asset Protection Planning
What is asset protection planning? Asset protection planning refers to the legal techniques and methods used to protect the assets of individuals and businesses without concealment or tax evasion.
Why is asset protection important? Asset protection planning may be an important part of your estate plan because with advance planning, it can keep your assets safe from someone who wins a lawsuit against you. MEP can work with you to assess your particular situation, evaluate the pros and cons of various options, design structures, prepare legal documents and ensure that all the various legal entities are properly in accordance with the law and your objectives.
Charitable Gifts and Trusts
Why may charitable giving be an important part of your estate plan? We all have our favorite charities and try to support them as best we can. Leaving your charity a gift at your death or setting up a trust that will take effect during your lifetime or after you die may be something you choose to work into your estate plan. We can work with you to determine which route you’d like to take as certain avenues such as setting up a charitable trust during your lifetime may have tax limitations that should be discussed.
Child or Children’s Trust
What is a child or children’s trust? A child’s trust is a trust created solely for the use of a child who is a minor. A children’s trust can also be created for the use of more than one child.
Why might a children’s trust be an important part of your estate plan? Some parents may feel that their minor children may not be mature enough at age 18 to properly handle assets left by them. If the assets are placed in a children’s trust, parents are able leave directions for a trustee who will distribute the funds according to the parent’s wishes.
What is a conservatorship? A conservatorship refers to the legal responsibilities over a person that is in some way or another unable to make legal, medical or financial decisions on behalf of themselves.
Durable General Power of Attorney for Finances
What is a Durable General Power of Attorney for Finances? A Durable General Power of Attorney for Finances is a document that allows you to appoint someone called an agent or attorney-in-fact to manage your finances when you become unable.
Why is a Durable General Power of Attorney for Finances an important part of your estate plan? A Durable General Power of Attorney for Finances is an important part of incapacity planning. We cannot predict what the future holds, therein lies the importance of planning ahead. If you become mentally unable to make financial decisions on your own and have a Durable General Power of Attorney for Finances in place, the agent that you have appointed will be able to make the decisions for you according to the wishes you set forth in the document.
What is estate planning? Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the elimination of uncertainties and an opportunity to maximize the value of the estate by minimizing and reducing taxes, liability or other expenses.
Why is estate planning important? Estate planning is important because you have worked hard to develop your estate over your lifetime. Taking the time out to create estate plan allows you to make decisions about the distribution of your property and money. This is an opportunity that everyone deserves.
Business Succession Planning
What is business succession planning? Business success planning is the process of determining what will happen to your business if you become mentally incapacitated or die.
What are Final Arrangements? Final arrangements are a set of instructions of some or all of the details of your burial or cremation.
Why may final arrangements be important for your estate plan? Although we don’t want to think of our mortality, the reality is that it will happen someday. You may choose to plan out your final arrangements in your estate plan to help ease the tensions and stress on your family, both emotionally and financially. This also gives you the ability to write out the specifics of your arrangements. For those who may not want a traditional service, this gives you the opportunity to spell out your wishes ahead of time.
What is a guardian? A guardian is a person who is chosen to care for your minor children if you die.
Why are guardian provisions an important part of your estate plan? If you have minor children, most likely one of the most important decisions of your estate plan is choosing the person who will take care of your children if you die. If you do not have a valid will or trust with a guardianship provision in place if something happens to you, a judge will decide who will raise your minor children. Although a judge tries to choose the best person whom he or she feels is the right choice based on the totality of the circumstances, it may not be who you would have chosen.
What is Intestate Succession? Intestate Succession is the distribution of a person\’s estate in accordance with the intestacy laws of the state that they lived in when they died.
Why you may want to avoid dying intestate? Dying intestate leaves you no control to distribute your assets according to your wishes. Although the intestate laws are set up to distribute your assets in a manner that seems the most fair, it may not be how you would have chosen. This is why it is important to set up either a valid will or trust before you die to make sure your assets are distributed how you’d like.
Last Will and Testament
What is a Last Will and Testament? A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that defines what a deceased person s wishes are in regard to his or her property. It provides for what their intentions are for where property should go after they die.
Why is a Last Will and Testament an important part of your estate plan? A Last Will and Testament is an important part of your estate plan because it is basically the building block to your plan. It will provide all of the important details of who will get what after you die. At a minimum, every person should have at least this document in place when determining what to include in their estate plan.
What is a living will? See Advanced Health Care Directive.
What is a marital agreement? A marital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into by the bride and groom before entering into the main agreement of marriage or civil union. The content of a prenuptial agreement can vary widely but normally includes provisions for the division of property and spousal support in the event of a divorce.
Medical Power of Attorney
What is a Medical Power of Attorney? Medical Power of Attorney is a document that selects a person, called an agent or attorney-in-fact to make medical decisions for you when you are unable. The agent is also responsible for making sure the decisions that you specified in your Advance Medical Directives are carried out in accordance to your wishes.
Why is a medical power of attorney an important part of your estate plan? A Medical Power of Attorney is an important part of incapacity planning. We cannot predict what the future holds, therein lies the importance of planning ahead. If you become mentally unable to make medical decisions on your own and have a Medical Power of Attorney in place, the agent that you have appointed will be able to make the decisions for you according to the wishes you set forth in the document.
Non-Traditional and Same-Sex Partnerships
Why is estate planning important for individuals in non-traditional and same-sex partnerships? More than any other group of individuals, proper estate planning may be extremely important for individuals in non-traditional and same-sex partnerships because the law does not recognize and there to carry out your wishes.
What is a Pet Trust? A Pet Trust is set up by a pet owner before the owner dies, detailing the care that should be provided to the pet if the owner dies first.
Why a pet trust may be an important part of your estate? A pet owner knows that his or her pet is not just a pet, but a member of the family. A Pet Trust can allow a particular amount of money to be set aside for the care and well being of your pet if you were no longer able to provide that love, care and attention. Leona Helmsley left her Maltese dog, Trouble, a $12 million trust fund. While you may not have $12 million to give to Fluffy, MEP can develop a simple pet trust so that you can rest assured that your pet will be properly fed and taken care of if you are unable.
What is probate administration? Probate administration is the legal process of administering the estate of a decease person by resolving all claims and distributing the deceased person’s property under the valid will. If a person dies without a valid will, a person’s estate must also pass through probate.
Why you may want your estate plan to avoid probate? Probate may last several months or over a year before all of the property is distributed and can incur substantial court and attorney costs in some large estates. The process is also often a hassle for family members who are already grieving the loss of a loved one. If possible, probate should be avoided to preserve your estate and so that your beneficiaries can receive what you left them in a timely manner. One of the many ways you may be able to avoid probate is to allow us to prepare and execute a living trust for you.
Revocable Living Trust
What is a Revocable Living Trust? A Revocable Living Trust is legal document and much like a Will, names the people that you’d like to inherit your property. It is funded with your assets while you are alive and can also be changed or revoked during your lifetime.
Why may a Revocable Living Trust be an important part of your estate plan? Distinguishing itself from a Will, one of the biggest advantages of a Revocable Living Trust is that if funded correctly, it allows a deceased person\s estate to skip the often long probate process. It is also a more private document than a Will because it is not kept as public record after death. These can be great advantages to any person who hopes that every their death, their family members may wrap up the administration of their estate as quickly as possible.
What is a Will? See Last Will & Testament