In the field of estate planning, there is a wide range of tools that an experienced attorney can use to ensure that estates are properly preserved and distributed, including:
A Will, sometimes called a Last Will and Testament, to transfer property you hold in your name to the person(s) and/or organization(s) you want to receive it. A Will also typically names someone you select to be your Personal Representative (Executor) to carry out your instructions and names a Guardian if you have minor children. A Will only becomes effective upon your death, after it is admitted to probate.
Health Care Powers of Attorney or Health Care Proxy appoints a person you designate to make decisions regarding your health care treatment in the event that you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
Living Will or Directive to Physicians is an advance directive which gives doctors and hospitals your instructions regarding the nature and extent of the care you want should you suffer from an incurable injury or disease.
Financial Powers of Attorney for Property appoints a person you designate to act for you and handle financial matters should you become mentally unable to do so.
A Revocable Living Trust can be used to hold legal title to and provide a mechanism to manage your property. You can select a person or persons – often even yourself – as the Trustee(s) to carry out the instructions in the Trust and name one or more Successor Trustees. Unlike a Will, a Trust usually becomes effective immediately, continues in force during your lifetime even in the event of your incapacity, and continues after your death. Revocable trusts allow the person who creates the Trust to make future changes, modifications and even to terminate it.
Life Insurance Trust or ILIT’s are designed to own life insurance policies and distribute the proceeds to the beneficiaries of the trust. The benefit of having the ILIT own the insurance policy is that the death benefits pass to the trust beneficiaries without incurring any estate tax liability. Otherwise, life insurance proceeds are included in the decedent’s estate and are subject to estate tax.
ASSET PROTECTION AND IRREVOCABLE TRUSTS (See categories below)
Qualified Terminable Interest Property Trusts (QTIP) are irrevocable, and as a result, provide asset protection immediately for those who create them if they are created properly. QTIP trusts have traditionally been used as testamentary trusts to provide for the surviving spouse and then for the children of the decedent spouse. However, under the Arizona Trust Code we can use QTIP Trusts as intervivos (between living persons), or living trusts that provide immediate asset protection for both spouses, as well as for their children in the future. These trusts also enable clients to maintain control of their assets while they are alive.
Limited Liability Companies are ideal for holding rental properties or other assets that may create liability for the owner. The assets of the owner of the LLC are not subject to any liability that arises within the LLC. Only the assets of the LLC itself are subject to any liability.
Family Limited Partnerships can be used to own and manage your property, in a similar manner to a Trust, but allowing additional tax planning techniques to be employed. Family Limited Partnerships are typically used for those who have large estates and thus have a need for specialized estate planning in order to minimize taxes as well as provide asset protection.
William S. Graves, P.C. 602-424-6161
8090 N. 85th Way, Ste. 100, Scottsdale, AZ 85258
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