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Succession and Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Many people are under the false impression that estate planning is merely the drafting of a document such as a trust or a will. However, successful plans involve much more than static documents. The estate planning documents must be reviewed regularly as laws and circumstances tend to change with time. A successful plan also requires dedication by each family in following and keeping and maintaining the proper formalities.

No two families are alike.  Families today have unique needs that challenge traditional models for estate planning and trust management. During the past 50 years, we have seen the rise of blended families, ever-increasing use of artificial reproduction technology, and changes to the composition of wealth.  The systemic technology innovation also means that wealth is not just real estate and liquid investments, we have to include cryptocurrency and other alternatives in the mix.

Key Points in Finding the Right Solutions

  • Look for estate planners who have served families like yours. Ask about their experience handling situations like yours.
  • Do not put off creating or reviewing your estate plan due to remarriage or divorce. It is difficult making long-term and wide-ranging decisions, but it is better to have a clear objective and will reduce the likelihood of litigation.
  • Consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement if you remarry.
  • Determine whether lifetime transfers might be beneficial in your situation to maintain harmony within the family.
  • Clarify and expand trust provisions and other estate planning terms to address previously overlooked issues, such as:
    • Carefully defining your beneficiaries. For example, if you set up a trust for your grandchildren, would you like to expand your definition of future grandchildren to include step grandchildren or those born through artificial reproductive technology?
    • Contemplating scenarios where your children never marry but remain in committed relationships and have children.
    • Aligning your estate planning documents with your religious or cultural traditions relating to end-of-life issues and inheritance. For example, does your living will or health care power of attorney fully reflect your values relating to end-of-life issues? Are the provisions of your trust agreement relating to investments or discretionary distributions consistent with your values?

Rivero & Hernandez are estate and tax planning attorneys advising today’s global families.

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