Estate Planning

Estate planning is a way to pass on property and real estate. Everyone over age eighteen should have at least some basic legal planning in place such as a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney.

Your estate plan may avoid many costly expenses during probate. It is also important to periodically review your estate planning objectives to reflect changes in your personal circumstance as well as changes in the law.

The Kouten Law Firm assists individuals and families in planning their estates, whether that be the preparation of a simple will or more involved trust planning documents.

We will work with you to develop an estate plan that is right for you.  A typical estate plan is developed through a committed process of counseling and educating us on your wishes. 

Your Estate Plan is comprised of your final wishes regarding your assets and loved ones.  Your estate plan may simply include a Last Will and Testament.  The documents necessary in an Estate Plan will vary from person-to-person.  Many clients seek tax planning and wealth distribution through the creation of a trust.

Contact us for a free estate planning worksheet.  We offer seminars and workshops in your area.  Call for our next workshop or set up a no-cost consultation.

An Estate Plan may include some or all of the following:

•Simple Last Will and Testament

•Complex Wills

A Last Will and Testament is the primary legal document to your estate plan. With a Will in place, you can decide now who will inherit your estate. You have the right to name someone to administer your estate. More importantly, you have the right to name a proposed guardian for your minor children.

Regardless of the size of your estate, it is critical that you have at least a simple Will. By executing a valid Will, you will have control over who gets your property and in what proportions, who will manage your affairs as executor, and who will serve as the Guardian of your minor children, if any.

You may decide that you would prefer setting up a trust and shielding most or all of your assets from the probate process.

Call to discuss which option is best for you. We make it simple with our estate planning worksheet. We can help you leave a clear and concise plan including pre-arranged funeral and/or pre authorized cremation.

•Durable Power of Attorney

This simple, but very powerful legal document allows a client to appoint a person, such as a spouse or adult child (or entity), to help manage financial affairs. This plan can only be put in place prior to incapacity. This plan can eliminate the risk of having a court select and appoint a Conservator for you.

•Advanced Health Care Directives

•Health Care Power of Attorney 

•Living Will

If you are unable to make decisions regarding medical or mental health care, a Health Care Power of Attorney gives a person of your choosing the power to make decisions, including life-sustaining treatment, in accordance with your wishes and preferences.

If you do not have a Health Care Power of Attorney, a probate court may appoint a Guardian to make those decisions for you. In addition, if you do not make your preferences clear regarding life-sustaining treatment, then you risk having treatment provided that prolongs your life longer than you wish. 

•Trusts

Many people think that trusts are only useful for the very wealthy. However, trusts are a great estate planning tool for anyone who wants to avoid the costs associated with probate and avoid paying some death taxes.  A Trust can provide limitations on your young children’s ability to access money left to them. A trust is a legal property interest held by one person, called the trustee, for the benefit of another person, called the beneficiary. The person establishing the trust is called the grantor.

A trust can be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust is one that can be changed or terminated by the grantor at any time and for any reason. An irrevocable trust, once established, cannot be terminated or altered for any reason.

Many clients seek revocable trusts to avoid probate. This can only be possible if the trust is funded during life. This is done by putting all accounts and property in the name of the trust. Often times this can be a daunting task, especially if your home/real estate has a mortgage.

Trusts provide privacy so that assets do not have to be revealed to the open record. Revocable trusts can be useful tools in estate planning. We can help you decide if a revocable trust is right for you.

•Special Needs and Supplemental Needs Trusts

The Kouten Law Firm assists clients with disabilities with planning for their long-term needs. We advise parents and other family members who wish to provide for disabled family members while preserving eligibility for Medicaid/SSI and other public benefits.

The best time to plan is when you are capable.  Our clients continue to praise the benefits of establishing their estate plans.  Get your plan in order.  Get your peace of mind.