A Comprehensive Estate Plan

At a minimum, a comprehensive estate plan will address the following issues:

  • Where do I want my property to go at my death?

  • Whom do I want to settle my affairs and distribute my property after my death?

  • Whom do I want to manage my assets and personal affairs if I become disabled?

  • Whom do I want to make healthcare decisions for me if I become disabled?

  • What medical care do I want if I am dying and cannot make decisions concerning my care?

  • If I become disabled, how will I pay for my nursing home or long-term care and for the support of those dependent upon me?

  • How can I minimize expenses, taxes (income, probate, and estate taxes) and delays if I become disabled or die?

  • When I die, do I have sufficient assets or insurance to pay administrative expenses and taxes resulting from my death and to provide for my beneficiaries?

Legal Documents

A comprehensive estate plan may incorporate some or all of the following.

  • An advance medical directive

  • A durable power of an attorney

  • A revocable living trust

  • An irrevocable life insurance trust

  • A family limited partnership

  • A pre-marital agreement

  • A supplemental or special needs trust

  • A will

These documents, along with coordinating the designation of beneficiaries of annuities, life insurance policies, IRAs, and retirement plan accounts, make up a comprehensive estate plan. 

Fiduciaries

One of the most important decisions that one must make in creating an effective estate plan is the selection of who will implement the plan. The fiduciary should have good judgement and experience in the management of money and assets, and be loyal. A well-crafted estate plan will appoint successor fiduciaries if the originally named fiduciaries are unable or unwilling to serve.