Estate Planning

Estate planning is concerned with planning for the day when a person's estate will pass to heirs under the individual's will. Anyone who owns anything would be well-advised to consult with a lawyer experienced in estate law matters to get advice and to make a will or set up a trust. Voelcker & Wagner Law Office will be able to advise you on how to transfer your assets in such a way as to minimize family headaches, estate taxes, and probate fees.

Other Estate Planning documents include:

Power of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directive (also known as a Living Will or Health Care Power of Attorney)

Typically, an Estate Planning Session consists of drawing a Will, Power of Attorney and an Advanced Medical Directive.

Remember, Estate Planning isn’t just for the wealthy.  An Estate is everything that you own; see more detailed descriptions below. It can include a mansion in a country setting with a garage full of classic cars; it can also be a mobile home on a ½ acre with a bicycle in the driveway.

Estate law is the branch of legal matters that are concerned with distributing a person's property after they die. A person's estate is made up of all the property owned by them - individually or in partnership with one or more others - at the time of their death and includes the following:

Real property (home, other buildings, land) Personal property (bank accounts, investment accounts, car, furniture, jewelry, and valuable collections) Proceeds from a life insurance policy IRAs and annuitiesDebts owed at the time of death, business or Business Interest owned by the deceased. The business interest is made up of any real estate owned by the business, equipment, tools, accounts receivable, and goodwill built up while the business was operating.

Wills. A will is a legal document that lets you tell the world who should receive which of your assets after your death. It also allows you to name guardians for any dependent children. A will also allows you to choose the person (Executor) who will be in charge of your estate and of distributing your assets. Without a will, the courts decide what happens to your assets and who is responsible for your kids.  Everyone should have a will and update it as often as necessary.

Trusts.  A trust is a relationship where property (real or personal, tangible or intangible) is held by one party for the benefit of another.  There are many reasons for creating a trust: 

Protecting your estate (and your beneficiary’s or beneficiaries’ estate): One of the primary uses of trusts is to protect your property even after it becomes someone else’s estate. For example, suppose that you want to leave $1,000,000 to your son, but you’re concerned that he will spend it all in one place. You can use a trust to parcel out the money to your son as you see fit. The trust can give him a little bit each year for some duration, and then a final lump sum at some age when you think he’ll be mature enough to protect the money as if he had actually earned it himself. Or you can add conditions to how the money in the trust is dispersed, such as your son receives a little bit of money until a certain age, and then he gets the rest only if he graduates college or meets some other criteria you determine when you set up the trust. Providing funds for educational purposes: Trusts can make money available to your children, grandchildren, other relatives, or even nonrelatives (your employees’ children, for example) for educational purposes, such as college tuition and living expenses.

You can set up and fund trusts that parcel out money for educational purposes with a no-school, no-money restriction.

Benefiting charities and institutions: You can help out charities by setting up some type of charitable trust that may, for example, annually give money to the charity while you’re still alive, give a larger amount upon your death, and then continue to make regular payments out of the remainder.

Trust and estate law case circumstances can vary greatly. Contact us for a consultation.