Good planning, preparation important for every family

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The benefits of a good estate plan should be enjoyed by every family. The savings of a good plan can be substantial. It need not be expensive to get a good plan.

We all want to avoid guardianship, conservatorship, formal probate, estate taxes, and acceleration of income taxes. We all want to avoid these problems and make sure there will be no family disputes.

We want to make sure our property will stay in our family bloodline, and that it will be handled in an appropriate manner without court involvement.

Fortunately, it is not difficult or expensive to get this protection.

Different law offices and practitioners run their practice differently. The manner in which my office helps our clients accomplish these goals usually manifests itself in three to four meetings. The first meeting is complimentary and designed to assess client goals and determine the scope of the representation and the projected fee.

The second meeting is an "in-person" meeting at our office to review the clients' papers. This meeting is critical. Here, we can review the papers and show the clients how they will actually operate in light of their assets.

The third meeting is to sign the papers and make sure all the assets are titled or designated optimally to ensure the plan will succeed. Using trust law to keep your property in your family through successive generations is a goal many clients have. You see, if trust law is used properly, you can ensure that your property will stay in your family bloodline and will not be lost to an in-law in a divorce.

For example, let's say Fred and Lucy have two children each from prior marriages. They are in a second marriage and they have no prenuptial agreement. They each to make sure the other will be the primary beneficiary and be able to use all the assets to maintain them for the survivor's lifetime.

They also want to make sure that when the survivor passes, what is left over will go 50% to Fred's children and 50% to Lucy's children in a manner so their children will not lose their inheritance if they have a bankruptcy or divorce.

Fred and Lucy could accomplish all of the above in three to four meetings, outlining their exact wishes according to their particular situation.

Mark F. Winn, J.D., Master of Laws (LL.M.) in estate planning, is a local asset protection, estate and elder law planning attorney. mwinnesq.com

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