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Four Ways to Address Your Estate Planning Now

It is never too early to draft your estate plan. The last thing you want is for your family and loved ones to be scrambling to pick up the pieces and figure things out when they are already under stress due to your passing. Importantly, almost all estate planning techniques may be changed or modified going forward so there is no downside to getting started now. Here are four ways to get started:

  1. Executor/Trustee. Do not leave the burden of handling your estate to your family members without providing adequate direction. Naming an Executor/Trustee is usually the most important decision you have to make, as this person is in charge of ensuring your wishes are followed and ensuring your beneficiaries receive the assets as you desire. The Executor may be a family member – such as spouse, sibling, or child, or it may be an independent neutral third party who you trust to affect your wishes (and who is legally required to do so).
  2. Healthcare directives. We typically advise our clients to (a) have a living will, which allows you to determine whether life sustaining treatment should be administered in the event you are terminally ill or injured, and (b) name a healthcare representative to act on your behalf speak to doctors on your behalf and assist professionals in making health care decisions if you are incapacitated. Please note that these powers cease upon your death or passing.
  3. Financial power of attorney. After you have named an executor and addressed health care directives, it is now important to find someone who can play the role of “attorney in fact” and to do things such as communicate with your bank and mortgage company and assist with your finances. Please note that upon your death, the power given to this person ceases as a matter of law period.
  4. Consider gifting techniques. When planning, it is important to understand and utilize the gift tax exemption and exclusion rules. For 2024, you may shelter >$13 million from the for federal estate and gift tax purposes. The government also provides you with an exclusion of up to $18,000 per donee. This means that you may gift up to $18,000 to any recipient without any gift tax consequences whatsoever.

If you have questions regarding tackling your estate plan now, or any other legal matters related to business or estate planning, please contact Fournier Legal Services via email at jfournier@jflegal.com or by calling 860-670-3535.

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