Authored by Kristin Gifford
At Lobb & Plewe, we take pride in helping high-net-worth individuals with their estate planning needs. Planning for the future is an important part of securing hard-earned resources and ensuring said resources are distributed to beneficiaries according to the estate holder’s wishes.
If you are in need of assistance with estate planning, our attorneys can help you make informed decisions regarding your estate. Our attorneys specialize in handling estate matters for individuals with sizable assets and those who require more complex solutions for creating a sound estate plan.
What Is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan is a comprehensive plan for the distribution of assets after someone has died or otherwise become incapacitated. An estate plan takes into account every form of property an individual owns; items such as a home (and other real estate), cars, banking accounts, investments, life insurance policies, jewelry, and other valuables. When forming an estate plan, it is imperative to make vital decisions regarding how assets will be passed on to loved ones or donated to charity according to the estate holder’s wishes.
Key Steps in Forming an Estate Plan
- Decide on professional estate planning assistance.
High-net-worth estate planning requires extensive research and planning. Hiring an attorney or another estate planning professional can save you precious time and serve as an invaluable resource during the estate planning process.
- Take inventory of your assets. In your estate plan, you should look to establish how you wish to account for your tangible or intangible property.
- Tangible property is your home, owned land, or other real estate property. You should also take stock of your vehicles (cars), other modes of transport (boats, motorcycles, etc.), antiques and collectibles, jewelry, and other personal possessions.
- Intangible property that should be accounted for includes financial accounts such as checking, savings, and certificates of deposit (CDs). Your estate plan should also list other investment accounts such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, life insurance policies, and retirement plans.
Once your assets are inventoried, you can have them assessed and adequately plan to distribute them to beneficiaries.
- Plan for guardianship and other family needs.
This step involves protecting your loved ones and seeing to their care once you are no longer around. The extent of family planning will depend on your marital status and whether you have children or other dependents. It is important to have life insurance to cover your spouse’s and children’s lifestyle expenses, especially if your child has special needs. You should also name a guardian for your children and specify your wishes for their care once you are gone.
- Establish a trustee and legal care directives.
Carefully assess how you wish to have your assets distributed, and take time to consider who you will designate as the trustee of your estate. Your trustee will serve as the representative responsible for carrying out your final wishes. This individual will be responsible for your care directives as well, primarily your trust, medical care directive, durable financial power of attorney, and limited power of attorney.
- Select and review your intended beneficiaries.
Clearly stating who your assets will go to is another crucial step in the estate planning process. Listing beneficiaries makes the distribution process less confusing and makes sure the right people receive the assets you wish them to have.
- Note the estate tax laws in your state.
Your attorney or estate tax professional can help you comb through the legal details of accounting for estate or inheritance taxes (if applicable in your state).
- Plan to reassess your estate plan (if and when necessary).
Plan ahead to make changes to your estate plan in the event that circumstances change. For example, major life events such as the loss of a job or the addition of a new baby will necessitate changes to your estate, so plan to revisit your estate plan if and when circumstances permit you to make needed changes.
Estate Plans for High-Net-Worth Individuals
Estate plans for high-net-worth individuals often require the help of professionals who understand your state’s laws and how to successfully plan for the needs of your loved ones. An attorney specializing in estate litigation can guide you in forming a comprehensive estate plan that meets your unique needs. The attorneys at Lobb & Plewe are available to assist the residents of California and Nevada with essential estate planning services.
Q: Who Should Have an Estate Plan?
A: Most people can benefit from creating an estate plan, but estate planning is especially crucial if you have a large number of assets and/or have children or other dependents who will require care in the event of your death or incapacitation. Preparing for the future with an estate plan helps you protect the people and property you value most.
Q: What Are the Most Important Estate Planning Documents?
A: The most important documents for estate planning include:
- A will: A document that declares your last wishes.
- Guardianship forms: Document stating who will care for your children or other dependents.
- Trust: A document that allows your representative to distribute assets to your beneficiaries.
- Financial power of attorney: Forms granting power over your finances to your designated representative.
- Advance health care directive: Forms stating which medical actions should be taken if you are incapacitated.
- HIPAA authorization: Forms that give a third party access to your medical records.
Q: What Are the Basic Steps to the Estate Planning Process?
A: The most basic steps to consider in estate planning are deciding on professional planning assistance, taking a thorough inventory of your assets, planning for the needs of your family, establishing your health and financial directives, listing your beneficiaries, accounting for state tax laws, and planning to reassess or revise your estate plan if necessary.
Q: What Are the Steps of Preparing a Will?
A: A will is usually a part of a more comprehensive estate plan and includes many of the same steps involved in estate planning. Property is listed, beneficiaries are designated, a representative is selected, and guardianship is established (for children and other dependents). Once the will is drafted, the document is signed in front of witnesses and stored for safekeeping.
We Can Help You Secure Your Assets With an Estate Plan
Making a sound plan for the future requires foresight and the expertise of an attorney who can walk you through the process of creating an estate plan that accounts for the most important people in your life. If you have estate planning needs and are in California or Nevada, we have attorneys located in Temecula, Corona, and Las Vegas who are equipped to take you through the planning process with the information you’ll need to properly secure your assets.
To learn more about how our estate planning attorneys can assist you with planning for the future, contact us today.