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Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

I like to think of estate planning along the lines of "Good, Better & Best".  The idea is to start with the basics and move to better planning from there. 

Estate planning certainly means having updated, current legal documents in order and ready to be used, if needed, during your life and, of course, upon your passing.  Yet, estate planning also means continuing to take actions in regard to all the areas that affect your life, your loved ones and your goals.  This is how you move from "good" to "better" and "best" as you continue to take steps in regard to your assets, debts, finances, relationships, business interests, personal interests, pets, charities and so on as well as continue to establish and communicate with your team of helpers, both professional and non-professional.

The holistic overarching theme is to LIVE BETTER, PLAN BETTER AND LEAVE A LEGACY.  You have a living legacy and a legacy to pass along when you're not here!  It's important to think of both!  Your assets are but one part of WHO you are and how one can think about estate planning.  When you continue to appreciate ALL you have experienced and learned, you think of life lessons, traditions, your heritage, your family history and it's in this kind of backdrop that you create appreciation for all you are and all you want to live and pass on, including clear communication to your loved ones during your life and, of course, better planning in the process.

I often use "packages" to incorporate estate planning for clients.


On a very practical level, everyone ages eighteen years and older with the necessary capacity should have a Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy/Living Will. 

It's like car insurance, homeowner's insurance and health insurance as you want basic estate planning documents in place to prevent major difficulties and heartaches.  A bit of planning can save in time, energy and money.  It's also very helpful to have an "estate planning mindset" established so that this kind of planning becomes just another part of life planning through the years and changes we all go through.  We cannot obtain homeowner's insurance when our house already had a fire.  Same idea with estate planning, we cannot put in place a Power of Attorney document once we have lost capacity to execute the document.  This loss of capacity can be even for a short or temporary period of time when a person may be recovering from an accident or illness or otherwise.  Part of estate planning is understanding that life throws you curveballs.  You want basic documents in place before there is a need to help you and your loved ones in those times.  

Click for a nugget from my YouTube Channel on capacity to create a Will.

A basic estate plan package, includes:

  • ​Will

  • Power of Attorney 

  • Health Care Proxy/Living Will

Keep in mind, that even with basic estate planning documents, each particular document must be tailored to your needs and goals.  For each document, there may be any number of possibilities to consider.  This can lead to additional considerations.  In regard to a Will, adults with minor children may desire a trust set up in the will along with trustee nominations, guardian nominations and executor nominations.  An elderly couple may desire to set up a trust in a will so as to prevent a surviving spouse needing nursing home care to have to use inherited assets toward such care.  As well, a person with business interests may desire to include special considerations in the Will in regard to the business. 

The Power of Attorney document can have substantial modifications to the statutory form and there are various other factors to consider.

The Health Care Proxy/Living Will can have very important provisions in regard to potential life-time care as well as arrangements upon death.  Other documents can also be set up.  


A basic estate plan can be improved upon with further review of all the factors that can affect a person's planning.  This can include financial factors and non-financial factors.  Taking more time to review and discuss these types of factors can lead to any number of actions, such as transferring real estate, reviewing or changing beneficiary designations, additional estate planning documents, referrals to other professionals, further education on estate planning matters and other possibilities.

Click for a nugget from my YouTube Channel on legacy estate planning.

An estate plan with additional considerations, may include:

  • ​Will with additional considerations

  • Power of Attorney with additional considerations

  • Health Care Proxy/Living Will with additional considerations

  • Reviewing how assets are titled

  • Beneficiary designation review

  • Transfer of real estate

  • Setting up a business entity for asset protection or otherwise

  • Business interests review

  • Creating new documents for business planning purposes

  • HIPPA Authorization

  • Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains Document

  • Referral to other professionals

  • Continuing discussions and education on estate planning matters

  • Other considerations, some of which may best be handled with setting up a lifetime trust or trusts (see below)


Adding onto the above, an estate plan with a lifetime trust, is used for individuals who have specific goals in mind in which setting up a lifetime trust will be part of their estate planning.  

Click for a nugget from my YouTube Channel on trusts.

Setting up a lifetime trust or trusts is tailored to your goals.

You want to consider the following:

  • Should the trust be revocable or irrevocable?

  • Should there be more than one trust?

  • What assets should be held in the trust?
  • ​Who should be the lifetime trustee? 

  • Who should be the trustee upon your passing?

  • Are your goals any of the following:

    • Manage and protect your business interests?
    • Plan for a person on government benefits?

    • Plan for potential Medicaid concerns?

    • Plan for minor, underage or incapacitated individuals?

    • Maintain control over assets as opposed to outright transfers?

    • Planning for pets?

    • Planning for charities?

    • Planning for creditor protection of beneficiaries?

    • Planning to maximize creditor protection for yourself?

    • Planning for income tax concerns?

    • Planning for estate tax concerns?

    • Planning around "red flags" with family or loved ones?

    • Planning to avoid probate?

    • Planning for business succession? 

We will explore the idea of a trust or trusts and the planning considerations that are involved, if this is something that may be desired.  

If you considering setting up a lifetime trust, it will be very important to start thinking about the people who would be nominated in the trust in different roles, as well as who should be named in your other estate planning documents.  All of the people, roles each plays, and the provisions in the documents themselves, should work together and this is a big part of the planning.  You want to imagine how the trust could play out in different scenarios.  The idea of a Trust Protector will also be discussed as another important role within a trust.

Power of Attorney


Power of Attorney

Health Care Proxy/Living Will

Start with thinking about the basic information that will be needed, including your assets, your family, who will be named in the documents as your "helpers" and who you want to be named in your Will as beneficiaries.

House For Sale Sign

Start with Basic Estate Plan and each document may be more complex.


As well, other additional considerations may include:

HIPPA Authorization

Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains

Transfer of Real Estate

Review of real estate

Review of business interests

Organize new business entity

Review of beneficiary designations and so on

Start with thinking about the items mentioned in the basic estate plan and consider your assets, debts, finances, relationships and goals and think of any specific concerns or goals you may have.  We can further discuss and explore potential options.  

Image by Scott Graham

Start with Basic Estate Plan

and each document may be more complex.

As well, additional considerations are also reviewed with any number of possible actions.


As well, a lifetime trust or trusts are part of the planning with specific goals in mind.

All documents work together.

Start with thinking of the items mentioned in the basic estate plan and then focus on your goals. 


You want to know as much as you can about your goals as this will dictate the type of lifetime trust to be set up along with the other planning. 


We will review and explore your options.  

Goals may include:

Avoiding probate

Privacy concerns

Medicaid concerns

Asset protection concerns

Beneficiary concerns

Business planning

Creditor protection planning

Managing "red flags"

Planning around relationship concerns

Income Tax Planning

Estate Tax Planning

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