The Estate Planning March Through Life: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Written by: Henry M. Terrell, Esq.
Whether it is the first, second, or third generation, the essence of estate planning arises out of our need to distribute our assets to the objects of our bounty—our loved ones, according to our wishes and desires.
This does not occur by happenstance. It occurs because, during our early years in life, we spend many hours - Building Our Estate - working more than one job, purchasing or building that family's dream home, and, on occasion, acquiring that investment vacation home. In addition, we continue to enhance our estate assets by saving our hard-earned funds for the “rainy day” and even venturing into the stock market or the “risk-reward” arena, seeking and hoping to further increase our asset balance.
At some point during our journey, we realize that the time has come to PRESERVE AND PROTECT those assets we have accumulated and expanded because those increased assets are for our comfort in our "golden" years and for the family’s future use and stability. We now know that our years of sacrifice and hard work have, in some measure, been a great benefit.
As we continue our “march through life” and the reality of our mortality is no longer “Memorex,” that is, it is real, we then realize how important it becomes to address the most critical process of our journey, the distribution of our assets. I can assure you that this phase differs intimately for each of us.
Consequently, since we now can determine Who, What, How, and cannot control the When, we must, at a bare minimum, consider the basic documents most Americans seek for assistance in the distribution process.
Our lives spent on asset building and preservation may well be rewarded in a distribution plan when the following basic documents are given some attention, if applicable, in your case situation: the Durable Power of Attorney (Real Estate Power of Attorney in DC as required by statute); the Will; and the Living.
Revocable Trust. Also, there are other sophisticated documents that are used in the estate planning process that require coordination with tax professionals knowledgeable about your tax burdens and the many tax provisions applicable to you that may address the lowering of the tax burdens on your estate when distribution must occur.
In summary, estate planning is by no means inexpensive or only for the well-to-do because it is a tool of knowledge that, when put into action, will serve your loved ones and the objects of your bounty for generations to come.