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Get Effective Estate Planning

Some people think the term "estate planning" is synonymous with a Last Will and Testament. In fact, a Will is simply one tool to be used in a comprehensive estate plan.

Create The Most Effective Estate Plan

The most effective estate plan coordinates the use of various instruments. These instruments include a 

  • Will

  • Trust

  • Power of Attorney

  • Living Will

These should be coordinated with life insurance and retirement account beneficiary designations, prenuptial agreements, and the proper titling of assets. By working with your estate-planning attorney you can develop an estate plan appropriate for your unique set of circumstances to accomplish your ultimate goals.

How It Works

For example, if many of your assets are contained in a retirement account, such as an IRA or a 401(k), you will want to make sure that the beneficiary designations on your account are coordinated with your Will because a beneficiary designated to receive IRA money upon your death will receive that money even if your Will provides differently. 

Understand Power Of Attorney

Another example concerns powers of attorney. A power of attorney designation lets you decide: 

  1. How much authority you give your agent

  2. Whether the agent can make gifts of your assets

  3. The limits of your agent's control 

  4. When your agent's powers take effect. This can be immediately or only if you cannot act on your own behalf.


When A Trust Makes Sense

A husband and wife might consider using a credit shelter trust in their Wills to reduce estate taxes after their deaths if their combined net worth will exceed the Federal exclusion of approximately $11,200,000.  Trusts also are appropriate vehicles for determining when a beneficiary, such as a child or grandchild, should receive his or her inheritance, and who should oversee the funds until distribution.


Paying Bills After You Pass

If your estate is more modest, you may wish to make sure that life insurance proceeds are available to your executor to pay expenses, including your funeral and the disposition of your remains, by making a proper beneficiary designation.

If you are a widow or widower with children and you are contemplating remarriage, you should consider entering into a prenuptial agreement with your intended to make sure assets are available to provide for your children should you die before your new spouse.

Finally, if most of your assets comprise real estate, you may wish to consider a life insurance trust or another mechanism to provide your executor access to liquid funds to pay expenses if you would prefer that the real estate not be sold, or at least that your executor not be forced to sell real estate at a less-than-optimal price just to have money to pay expenses.

Not everyone's circumstances are identical and, therefore, a custom-made estate plan suited to your specific situation is vital.

Call me, attorney Ronald M. Katkocin at Katkocin Law Office in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, at (609) 953-2000 to discuss your estate plan today, or contact the office online. I help people make sound legal decisions throughout Burlington County and all of South Jersey.

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