2010: A Year of Many Changes in Elder Law and Special Needs Planning

Your wealth or your family – which is more important? For most of us, we would say our families. When the attorneys at HUCK & BRISSKE, LLC assist clients in the design of a comprehensive estate plan, they keep their clients’ priorities in order. Too many attorneys approach estate planning with the main objective of avoiding probate and minimizing taxes, sort of a “one size fits all” approach. Although these are important objectives, they should take a back seat to the clients’ overall family and wealth planning objectives.

At HUCK & BRISSKE, LLC, the focus is on the client. Initial discussions revolve around family – family circumstances, family goals and objectives, the individual family members’ ability to responsibly handle a transfer of wealth, asset protection issues and other relevant considerations. After a full understanding of these issues, design of the estate plan centers around these objectives, taking into consideration the secondary goals of probate avoidance, income tax efficiency and minimization or elimination of federal and state estate taxes.

For most clients, planning with trusts accomplishes these objectives. The plan design and drafting of conforming documents, however, is not enough. In order to complete a comprehensive plan, implementation of that plan through proper transfer of assets to the trust and, in the case of a married couple, asset allocation between the respective trusts must be completed. Beneficiary designations for life insurance and annuities must also be properly drafted and coordinated with the plan design. Often, customized beneficiary designations of retirement plans and IRA accounts are necessary in order to achieve the best income tax result (”stretch IRAs”) and optimal asset protection.

After an estate plan is completed and the documents are signed, most clients mistakenly believe that no further action is necessary. The attorneys at HUCK & BRISSKE, LLC believe strongly that it is important to review an estate plan on a regular basis. Estate planning is a process, not an event. Personal, financial, legal and tax changes affect estate plans in ways of which clients are often unaware. Clients are encouraged to enroll in an annual Review and Update program to ensure that their plans meet their objectives on an ongoing basis. In an environment that is constantly changing, periodic reviews are critical to the continued relevance and effectiveness of an estate plan.

The objective of the attorneys at HUCK & BRISSKE, LLC is to be thorough and complete in the design, drafting, implementation and follow-up of the clients’ estate plan.