Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person’s life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses. Guardians are often designated for minor children and beneficiaries in incapacity.
Estate planning involves a will, trusts, beneficiary designations, powers of appointment, property ownership (joint tenancy, with rights of survivor-ship, tenancy in common, tenancy by the entirety), gift, and powers of attorney, specifically the durable financial power of attorney and the durable medical power of attorney.
Trusts may be used to set up certain provisions for how minor children or developmentally disabled children will be distributed funds.
Estate planning is an ongoing process and should be started as soon as one has any measurable asset base, as life progresses and goals shift, the estate plan should move in line with your new goals. Lack of adequate estate planning can cause undue financial burdens to loved ones, so at the very least a will should be set up even if the taxable estate is not large.