ESTATE PLANNING WITH HILLARD N. EINBINDER

Everyone knows the importance of an estate plan. This is how assets are passed to loved ones after we die. An estate plan may also used to name guardians for young children after a tragic parental loss, and/or to arrange for the support of persons who are not mature enough to handle wealth on their own.

To most, the words “Estate Plan” and “Will” have the same meaning. Although the terms are often interchanged, a Will is not the only way to transfer wealth. When a Will is used, a person’s financial assets are frozen upon his death. To unfreeze them, a legal process known as “probate” must be initiated. In that probate is a legal process, typically, professional administration of the estate by a third party is required.

A second, less used method to transfer wealth is the Living Trust. When a Living Trust is used, financial assets are not frozen when a person dies. In that there is nothing to unfreeze, legal probate is avoided. The deceased person’s assets are immediately available to spouse and family. Typically, Living Trust estate plans are privately administered by family members or close friends.
Estate plans created by Wills and in Living Trusts are both revocable; that is either type of plan may be modified or changed by the person who created it during his or her lifetime.

Which alternative is best for your family? Hilly will help you decide and work with you to create an estate plan for your family that fits your unique goals, needs and finances.

Your estate plan will include the following:
1. Living Trust and/or Will;
2. Durable Power of Attorney;
3. Living Will; and
4. Appointment of Health Care Agent.

FAMILY SHIELD ESTATE PLAN

This estate plan was crafted by Attorney Hilly Einbinder to fill a planning void that is found in a surprising number of families. Specifically the need for an estate plan where either none exists, or if one does, it lacks the necessary safeguards to ensure a satisfactory result.

To fill this void, Hilly Einbinder has fashioned a joint estate plan, governed under a single document. The document, which is in the form of a revocable living trust, is intended to provide a shield of protection to minor and adult children after parental loss. It is suitable for families with a large or small net worth. The ability of a family with a small net worth to take advantage of this plan may be contingent upon the placement of life insurance to fund the trust. Unlike when a traditional will is used, under a living trust estate plan such as Hilly Einbinder’s, your family will not lose control of its financial assets, which happens every time these assets are transferred under a will. Although your assets will be in trust, your ability to beneficially use and control them will be no different from when you owned them individually, as under the plan you are both the legal and equitable owner of the trust’s assets. However, there is one significant difference. Trust assets are not owned in an individual capacity; when you die, nothing passes to an estate, thereby avoiding probate.

Under Hilly Einbinder’s estate plan, your family’s assets will be administered exactly the same way as they presently are. After you die, the assets will be administered by your designated successor trustee, typically a trusted family member or friend. Because assets held in a trust are never frozen by probate, your family will not have to retain professional administration to regain control of them after you die. The placement of assets into a living trust effectively guarantees a family’s ability to carry on life as usual after sustaining a personal loss.

After the first spouse’s death, this plan goes beyond the scope of the typical will by providing several planning options to the surviving spouse which, if exercised, could save on the payment of estate taxes, provide protection from creditors on the assets of the first spouse to die, and/or enable the distribution of separately owned property outside the immediate family (if it is not needed).

In light of its objective of family protection, Hilly Einbinder’s estate plan assumes the first spouse to die would want all plan assets, whether jointly or separately owned, to remain available to support the needs of the surviving spouse and family. Accordingly, the intent of the plan is to guarantee the surviving spouse necessary access to all jointly and separately owned property until death.

Lastly, and perhaps most important of all, Hilly Einbinder’s estate plan was designed to provide your family a lasting shield of protection. Upon the surviving spouse’s death, or earlier catastrophic demise of both spouses, if appropriate, this plan will continue into the future, remaining in effect to oversee the payment and timing of distributions to both minor and adult beneficiaries. This plan was drafted to keep your hard-earned assets out of the grasp of unintended third parties by enabling your trustee to delay the timing of distributions and/or implement appropriate measures to protect beneficiaries and accomplish intended goals.

This plan provides your loved ones with the gift of lasting protection.

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1) In the event of catastrophic or untimely death, families with minor children, or children still in school, should carry appropriate levels of life insurance to fund their estate plans.

2) When a person dies with a will, legal title to the deceased’s assets pass to his or her estate, where they will remain, essentially frozen in time, until unfrozen by the legal process known as probate. Since probate is a legal process, typically, professional administration by a lawyer is required to regain access.
The legal title to trust property is held by the trustee. In a revocable trust, you are the Trustee of your trust’s assets. As long as you are alive, you hold them for yourself, as the trust’s sole beneficiary.

3) Although probate is avoided in the classic sense of the term (specifically, elimination of application to open estate, inventory, accountings, mandatory time frames, etc.), whenever a Connecticut resident dies, by state law, a Connecticut estate tax return must be filed with the probate court of the district in which the decedent resided.

4)Although no Connecticut estate tax is due on taxable estates valued at less than $2,000,000, a fee known as the Connecticut probate fee is payable to the Treasurer of the State of Connecticut in accordance with the attached schedule.

5) Access to a deceased spouse’s separately owned property may not be appropriate if remaining plan assets are sufficient to support the surviving spouse and family needs withour resorting to such property.