Estate Plans: As You Live and Breathe

LifeSituations change; as a result, you need to consider any changes to your estate planning documents.

There are marriages. Children are born and adopted. Loved ones and friends pass away. Because of these changes, taking the time to update previously drafted documents is critical. Everyone needs basic estate planning documents in place. For those with assets to distribute at least a will should be created, however, everyone, 18 years and older needs a power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and an advanced healthcare directive (often called a living will). For anyone with a blended family, in a second marriage disharmony within the family, and specific dispositive requirements may want to examine the wisdom of establishing a trusts as the means of providing solutions to a growing litany of financial, and emotional issues. Certainly, prepare these documents can help avoid in-fighting and the stress for loved ones left behind; it’s well worth the time it will take to get it right.

When we create your estate planning documents, we provide you with the means to gather these and the associated documentation together in one place. That means that when the time comes for your fiduciary to take responsibility for the decisions that must be made, your efforts will have provided them with the only source they will to consult to find the answers they will need to act.  Of course, that means if this source is stored  in a home safe, a bank deposit box or is on file with your attorney (least desirable, btw) you‘ll need to provide that decision maker with a way to get to the documents.

Knowing that these documents need to be periodically review is not enough; you need to act on this information.  That’s why we call our clients every three years to schedule their complimentary review. In addition to reviewing your documents we that your trust funding is current and ensure that your own circumstances have not changed your planning objectives.

Trusts and wills do not control how all of your assets are inherited at your death. Some assets, like a 401(K) or IRAs, are passed to the beneficiary of the account regardless of what your estate plan may dictate. This is also true of life insurance, pensions, transfer on death accounts and accounts held as joint tenants with right of survivorship.

The federal estate tax exemption for 2016 is $5.45 million per person and $10.9 million per couple. To see if tax liability might be an issue, the estimated fair market value of assets needs to be calculated. Talk to an estate planning attorney if your estate may be close to the exemption limit. An experienced attorney will be able to discuss options to avoid the federal estate tax—a whopping 40% on any amount over the $5.45 million exemption.

An up-to-date and comprehensive estate plan will help ensure that your intentions are carried out and will help to avoid headaches among survivors. Once the planning is done, however, don't forget to conduct a periodic review.

Reference: Dairy Herd (February 9, 2016) "Legal: Review and update your estate plan now"

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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
  • Please continue to follow the directives of our local, state, and federal agencies. For your health and in consideration of our team who is assisting you, if you’ve scheduled an office appointment or planned to drop off paperwork and are experiencing a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care doctor for guidance and then our office to reschedule.

Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.