By Leah A Foertsch

January 10, 2024

Before base jumping into the miasma of risk, the first thing you should do is make sure your estate plan, in its current iteration, meets your needs and has adapted to any challenging or changing family situation. A well-rounded estate plan is literally more of a life than (then) death plan.  In other words, your estate plan should incorporate aspects of management during your life, and disposition arrangements after you’re gone.  Estate planning tools, such as a revocable trust, power of attorney and health care power of attorney, are all intended to have import during your life and could avoid the need for a guardianship in the event of your incapacity. 

The revocable trust and power of attorney ensure legal decisions are made according to your wishes by your fiduciary, who is chosen to act in your best interest, during your life.  For example, your power of attorney will be invaluable in making sure your mortgage payments are made if your parachute fails to deploy during your next sky diving adventure.  Consider this: do you engage in annual exclusion gifting?  Would you want that gifting program to continue during your incapacity?  These documents would allow that.  The health care power of attorney appoints someone to make health care decisions for you when you are unable. 

 Once you are gone, the revocable trust will continue to provide for management of your property and make disposition according to your wishes.  If the unfortunate were to happen when you are wrestling an alligator in the Everglades, your trust will provide for property management by your successor trustee in your absence.  Once the length of your disappearance causes your relations to declare you dead, your trust will provide for the next level of disposition to your beneficiaries.  When properly and fully funded, your estate should be able to avoid probate. Do you have minor children?  You can specify your preference for guardians in your Last Will and Testament.

 Lastly, if you get your kicks from finding money saving nuances in the Internal Revenue Code (as your author does), we can structure a plan that allows you to have your cake (estate tax exclusion) and eat it too (paying the income tax personally while the asset grows tax free).

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