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Estate Planning

People spend a lifetime accumulating assets and building an estate with the intention of passing it on to their loved ones or charity. Without proper planning, a person’s death can create confusion, complexity, and unintended family conflict. 

Thrive does not draft estate planning documents but will work with our clients and their estate planning attorney to avoid unwanted surprises and prepare for a smooth transition of wealth. 

Effective wealth transfer starts with a clear understanding of ones objectives. Then it is important to understand how assets pass. Many people think their Will distributes their wealth. However, they are mistaken and must understand their assets pass by title then beneficiary designation even before their Will is relevant.  

There are four estate planning documents you may need, regardless of your age, health, or wealth: 

Durable Power of Attorney
Advanced Medical Directives

A Will is often said to be the cornerstone of any estate plan. The main purpose of a Will is to disburse property to loved ones or charity after your death. If you don't leave a Will, disbursements will be made according to state law, which might not be what you would want.

There are two other equally important aspects of a Will: 

You can name the person (executor) who will manage and settle your estate.  If you do not name someone, the court will appoint an administrator, who might not be someone you would choose.
You can name a legal guardian for minor children or dependents with special needs.  If you don’t appoint a guardian, the state will appoint one for you. VERY important for individuals with minor children.

Keep in mind that a Will is a legal document, and the courts are very reluctant to overturn any provisions within it.  Therefore, it’s crucial that your Will be well written and articulated, and properly executed under your state’s laws.  It’s also important to keep your Will up to date.

Letter of Instruction

A letter of instruction (also called a testamentary letter or side letter) is an informal, nonlegal document that generally accompanies your Will and is used to express your personal thoughts and directions regarding what is in the Will (or about other things, such as your burial wishes or where to locate other documents). This can be the most helpful document you leave for your family members and your executor.

Unlike your Will, a letter of instruction remains private. Therefore, it is an opportunity to say the things you would rather not make public.

A letter of instruction is not a substitute for a Will. Any directions you include in the letter are only suggestions and are not binding. The people to whom you address the letter may follow or disregard any instructions.

For more information on planning your estate, please contact us today!

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