Trust and Estate Planning Services

What is Estate Planning?

Your estate is comprised of all your assets: your home, investments, savings, cars, and personal possessions. Estate planning is the process of arranging and preparing for the management and disposal of your estate during your life and after your death. The primary goal of estate planning is to ensure that the estate is handled according to your wishes while minimizing taxes, legal fees, and other expenses.

trust and estate planning services

What are some Important Elements of Estate Planning?

  • Wills: A legal document specifying how an individual's assets and property should be distributed after their death. It can also appoint guardians for minor children.
  • Trusts: Legal arrangements where one party (the trustee) holds and manages property for the benefit of another (the beneficiary). Trusts can help avoid probate, reduce estate taxes, and provide for long-term management of assets.
  • Powers of Attorney: Legal documents that grant someone else the authority to make decisions on behalf of the individual, especially in financial or medical matters if they become incapacitated.
  • Healthcare Directives: Also known as living wills or advance directives, these documents specify an individual's preferences for medical treatment in case they become unable to communicate their decisions.
  • Beneficiary Designations: Naming beneficiaries for retirement accounts, insurance policies, and other financial accounts to ensure these assets are transferred directly to the designated individuals without going through probate.
  • Estate Taxes: Planning to minimize estate and gift taxes through various strategies, such as gifting assets during one's lifetime or establishing certain types of trusts.
  • Probate: The legal process through which a deceased person's will is validated, and their assets are distributed under court supervision. Proper estate planning can help streamline or avoid the probate process.
  • Business Succession Planning: For business owners, this involves planning for the transfer of business ownership and management, ensuring continuity and minimizing disruptions.

What is the Difference Between a Will and a Trust? 

There are many facets to an estate plan, but the most basic documents include wills and trusts. But what is the difference between them?

At their most basic levels, Wills and Trusts perform a lot of the same functions. They both contain instructions for how a person’s assets are to be distributed when they die, and they both nominate the people who will oversee handling the estate. For this reason, a trust is sometimes referred to as a ‘will substitute’. 
There are two fundamental - and crucial - differences between wills and trusts: 

  • A will only operates in probate court, but a trust can be used to avoid probate. 
  • With a trust, you’re able to build in protections for your beneficiaries, but with a will you cannot. 

Why Do I Want to Avoid Probate?

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person's will is validated, and their assets are distributed under court supervision. Proper estate planning can help streamline or avoid the probate process.

How Can I Protect My Beneficiaries?

One of the most powerful aspects of using a trust for estate planning is protecting your loved ones. While it’s possible – and even appropriate at times – to pass assets directly to loved ones without trust planning, many families will benefit from using a trust to manage and distribute assets. 

For example, you may wish to protect your loved ones if they are susceptible to any of the following:

  • Creditors - whether they have creditor problems now, or some that arise in the future. 
  • Predators - people who would take advantage of them after they receive an inheritance. 
  • Poor financial judgment - sometimes our loved ones just aren’t good at handling money. 
  • Loss of benefits - if you have a loved one with special needs, the wrong kind of estate plan could cause them to lose the benefits they depend on. 
  • Divorce loss - if one of your loved ones got divorced, would you want their ex-spouse to receive half of their inheritance? Without proper planning, that can happen. 

By using a trust for your estate plan instead of a will, you’re able to create a plan that’s customized for the needs of each individual beneficiary. Your trust plan can possess provisions protecting your loved ones from these and other risks that can affect them. 

Should I Have a Trust?

The answer to that question depends on your needs and goals. Generally speaking, a person should seriously consider a trust-based estate plan if they can answer yes to one or more of the following questions: 

  • Do you want to simplify your estate for your loved ones and make it easier for them to administer everything after you’ve passed? 
  • Do you want your estate to stay out of probate? 
  • Do you have any concerns about any of your beneficiaries (if they would receive a lump sum inheritance from you)? 

So Why Would You Not Do Estate Planning?

Whether or not a trust is appropriate for you and your estate planning situation depends on many factors. The key to estate planning is to engage in an estate planning process and see it through to the end. Often, this is helped by forming a team of professionals around you to ensure accountability. The team may include an Estate Planning Attorney, your Financial Advisory, and possibly your Accountant.

Contact Us

Contact us to schedule a discussion about estate planning and how it fits into a comprehensive retirement plan.

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Fourth Dimension Financial Group LLC

FOURTH DIMENSION FINANCIAL GROUP
27121 Oakmead Dr.
Suite B
Perrysburg, Ohio 43551