Listed are the top five concerns of the typical estate planning client.

1. Minor Children

Parents of minor children want to make sure that responsible parties are prepared to step in and raise their children if they cannot. They will want to appoint a Guardian of the Person and a Guardian of the Estate, who may or may not be the same persons.

2. Incapacity

Clients want to make sure that if they are temporarily or permanently incapacitated, a person they trust is nominated to handle their health care and property decisions. At the same time, the client can give instructions, such as end-of-life guidelines or property desires.

3. Distributions

Clients want to make sure that their assets go to certain persons on their death. The creation of a will, or a will and trust, is necessary to accomplish this goal. There are four types of beneficiaries; specific/direct; contingent; alternative; and, residuary.

4. Probate

Clients want their estates to avoid probate, which will eat away at their beneficiaries estate and cause significant delay in the transfer of assets. The only way to do this is to place all assets in probate avoiding devices, such as life insurance, pay-on-death accounts, and living trusts.

5. Estate Taxes

As of 1/1/2011, all estates over $1M will be taxed at 55% on transfer to non-spousal beneficiares. Clients who are married can easily save $550,000 on said transfer with the creation of a trust! Other strategies, such as inter-vivos transfers, can also significantly reduce taxation.