Our Unique Services
Our services exceed what most estate planning law firms offer.
Most attorneys can help you avoid probate, minimize estate taxes and distribute your estate after your death. However, at Preston Estate Planning we feel it is more important to help you safeguard your assets from unplanned and unforeseen circumstances while you are alive. Most estate plans that we review do not do that.
Our process ensures that you receive the maximum amount of protection for your assets now and in the future.
Our unique 14-point analysis will determine if your existing estate plan provides you with the level of protection you want and need for your family.
What makes Preston Estate Planning unique is that most of the people who hire us already have an estate plan. What they find valuable in working with us is our ability to identify and correct the hidden mistakes that exist in their current plan.
It’s like checking your parachute before you jump. Our unique 14-Point analysis helps uncover omissions and inconsistencies in your plan. In many cases, we find that 10 or more of the items we believe are important are missing from those documents. That’s because the focus of most estate plans is on what happens when you die, not what happens while you are alive.
We fix trusts. If you already have an estate plan our 14-point analysis will determine if your existing plan provides you with the level of protection you want and need for your family.
Life Plan vs. Death Plan
Most of the Trust Documents that we review are “Death Plans.” They are designed to solve problems that ordinarily occur at death: Avoiding Probate, Minimizing Estate Taxes and Distributing the Estate. And while all of these problems are significant, they are only the beginning.
Yet in many situations, the documents stop there.
The most important part of our plan focuses on how the documents work while you and/or your beneficiaries are alive. The provisions and documents in your Plan that address these issues are referred to as the Life Plan.
There are two parts to the “Life Plan:” the “Pre-Death Plan” and the “Post Death Plan.” The Pre-Death Plan includes provisions and documents that address “disability issues,” “proxy documents,” and “asset protection provisions” for the benefit of the Trustors. The “Post-Death Plan” includes provisions that address assets protection provisions for the life of the children as well as for life of the grandchildren.
Most of the Trust documents that we review do not adequately address either the “Pre-Death Plan” or the “Post-Death Plan.” Many documents don’t address these issues at all.
Maintaining Your Life Plan
Your documents will become outdated over time. We have developed a system to keep your documents current.
Our trademarked process, the Life Plan,™ exceeds the scope of a typical living trust. It ensures that no detail is overlooked and that you, your family and your estate are protected today and tomorrow.
How It Works
Creating Your Trust
First, we review your existing documents to determine what provisions and / or documents are missing. Then we rewrite or update your plan to incorporate the missing pieces.
After the documents have been completed, we send you a summary of the details of your plan. Upon your approval, the documents are delivered to you for review before you sign them.
Funding Your Trust
After the documents have been signed, we verify that all of your assets are registered correctly. This is a critical step, and if it is not done properly, your estate plan will be little more than a stack of paper.
We’ll also provide you with written instructions that clearly explain how your assets should be registered.
We will also make sure that you and the individuals you designate have easy access to your medical emergency documents in the event of an accident or illness.
Proxy Documents: Wills, Financial Powers of Attorney, Advance Healthcare Directives, etc.
Proxy documents legally authorize another individual to act on your behalf. This includes making decisions for you, obtaining personal private information, and even signing your name.
The most common examples are Financial Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directives.
The Financial Power of Attorney, as the name suggests, gives an individual the authority to act on behalf of another regarding financial transactions.
There are two types of Powers of Attorney, “springing” and “immediate.” The difference between these two types is when they become effective. The “springing” power is not effective until the person delegating the authority has been proven to be incompetent. The immediate power is effective immediately and therefore the delegation of power is not dependent on any other event.
Almost without exception, Financial Powers of Attorney should be “immediate” and the Advance Health Care Directives should be “springing.” It is not uncommon to discover that the language in at least one of these documents is incorrect, but more often than not, the language in both documents is backwards.
To ensure that your wishes are interpreted correctly and carried out according to your plan, it is very important that your proxy documents be prepared by a professional attorney.
Not all attorneys treat the process of creating proxy documents in the same way. Sometimes these documents are drafted to simply meet the minimum legal requirements.
At Preston Estate Planning, that’s not the way we do business. We treat every client as an individual, and we ensure that their documents are drafted professionally and with the proper language.
We can help you plan for the future. To learn more, contact our office at (800) 698-6918.
Our Life Plan™ provides more benefits and a higher level of protection for your children upon inheriting your estate.
A typical revocable living trust allows your children or other beneficiaries to avoid probate and unnecessary taxes upon inheriting your estate. It usually expires after the assets are distributed. Though this type of trust has its place, we recommend clients opt for our Life Plan™ approach.
With a Life Plan™, instead of distributing assets directly into your children’s names, they are held in a trust that is created by your trust. It’s like a trust within a trust.
Your children or other beneficiaries can withdraw funds from the trust, but they don’t own the trust. This protects them and the funds from creditors or other liabilities like a future divorce.
One of the benefits of creating this type of “trust within a trust” is that you can design it to fit your wishes and control all aspects of distributing the inheritance.
We fix trusts. Take steps to protect your family’s future. To learn more, contact our office at (800) 698-6918.
A Retirement Trust protects your funds and your beneficiaries.
If your children or other beneficiaries stand to inherit your IRA, you should consider a Retirement Trust. A 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruled that when IRA accounts are inherited by someone other than the account holder’s spouse, they lose their status as retirement funds and may be tapped into by the beneficiary’s creditors to resolve debt. This could not only affect the beneficiary’s access to the funds, but also require him or her to pay income tax on the withdrawals.
A Retirement Trust provides protection for your retirement fund and your beneficiaries. This type of trust is created separately from your revocable living trust and serves as a protective conduit for those you wish to inherit your account. If you are married, you can still name your spouse as the primary beneficiary, but instead of naming your children, or another individual, as the secondary beneficiary of the IRA, you would name your Retirement Trust. The person you would like to inherit your IRA would be designated as the beneficiary on the Trust. Upon the death of you and your spouse, the Trust would then receive the proceeds of your IRAs, providing access to the funds as well as asset protection for your beneficiaries. This prevents creditors from touching the money.
An IRA Trust is an excellent way to protect your adult children’s access to your hard-earned funds. It’s also a solid solution for passing an IRA account on to minor children. There are many complex issues when minor children inherit IRA accounts, a Retirement Trust can eliminate those issues.
How Does A Retirement Trust Work?
The trustee of your Retirement Trust controls withdrawals from the IRA. The trustee can also be the beneficiary of your Retirement Trust.
The terms of this type of trust specify that the trustee must withdraw the minimum amount required by law from the IRA. They can also specify that this amount may be exceeded for an emergency, such as health or educational needs.
Once the funds are withdrawn from the IRA and placed in the Retirement Trust, the proceeds are either distributed outright to the beneficiaries or held in the Trust until the trustee disburses them in accordance with your directions.
A Retirement Trust provides all the benefits of “stretching” the distribution from the IRA over the life expectancy of each beneficiary. You can also place restrictions in the Retirement Trust to ensure that the beneficiaries will not prematurely withdraw the funds.
Can’t I Use My Living Trust as the Beneficiary of My IRA?
As a general rule, we don’t recommend that you name a traditional Living Trust as the beneficiary of your retirement accounts. Nor should your Living Trust be named as the beneficiary of your Retirement Trust.
Even though the Living Trust may have specific language regarding the disposition of the estate, a traditional Living Trust does not contain the necessary provision to address the income tax and asset protection issues unique to the retirement accounts. The designated beneficiaries of your Retirement Trust should be the individuals to whom you want the proceeds from your retirement account be given.
In addition to having the Retirement Trust drafted correctly by an attorney qualified to do so, it is also necessary that the beneficiary designation be completed correctly and filed with the custodian.
Creating a Retirement Trust and designating a beneficiary of a retirement is complicated and can cause serious tax consequences if not done correctly. Contact our office at (800) 698-6918.
Maintaining Your Trust
It is just as important to keep your estate plan updated, as it is to create it. Change happens. It may be a legal change or a personal change. A divorce, a marriage, an illness, injury or other life changing events may require an update to your plan.
Our Life Plan™ Membership offers our clients the option to retain our services for a flat annual fee. This service ensures that the documents are always current and consistent with your desires.
We will maintain and update every document that we prepare due to changes required by law, changes requested by you or changes suggested by us.
Our comprehensive Life Plan™ includes pre-death planning, death planning and post-death planning. Take steps to protect your family’s future. To learn more, contact our office at (800) 698-6918.
In the event of a medical emergency that incapacitates you, it’s essential to have advanced medical directives that clearly state what medical actions you want taken to save your life. These documents, such as a living will and a HIPAA release form, are the most important legal documents doctors need in a medical emergency.
Yet according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, more than 70 percent of the time these documents are not available.
At Preston Estate Planning, we help our clients complete all of the necessary advanced medical directives they need. But more importantly, we provide them with a medical access card that allows hospital workers and physicians to access these documents on the Internet at any time of the day or night.
The three crucial documents that Preston Estate Planning recommends its clients update and keep on file in case of a medical emergency are as follows:
Financial Power of Attorney: This document allows a person to sign financial documents and checks on your behalf, pay bills and access bank accounts that are not part of your trust and therefore not under the control of your trust.
Advanced Healthcare Directive: This document states what measures you would like doctors to take in order to save or maintain your life. In this document you can appoint someone else to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
HIPAA Release. The federal HIPAA laws require health care facilities and professionals to safeguard your personal health information. A HIPAA release allows you designate in advance who is authorized to receive information about your health and your medical care.
Since these documents are seldom carried with you, we provide a medical access card, which fits in your wallet. This provides medical personnel immediate access to your important legal medical directives. It can also provide them with access to your list of medications, your emergency contact information, allergy information or current medical conditions.
Preston Estate Planning provides all of its clients with a medical access card once they have completed the necessary legal documents. It is an essential part of our firm’s comprehensive estate plan package, which aims to protect you, your assets and your loved ones for the rest of your life and long after your death.
To learn more about advanced healthcare directives and medical access cards call (800) 698-6198.