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Estate Planning Boot Camp: Lesson 1

Updated: Feb 4, 2021

Definition of Estate Planning

According to the American Bar Association, Estate Planning is a process by which an individual designs a strategy and executes a will, trust agreement, or other documents to provide for the administration of his or her assets upon his or her incapacity or death. Tax and liquidity planning are part of this process. It can also be defined as the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person's life. Estate planning typically attempts to eliminate uncertainties over the administration of a probate and maximize the value of the estate by reducing taxes and other expenses.

I want to control my property while I am alive and well. I want to provide for myself and my loved ones if I become disabled. I want to minimize the impact of professional fees, court costs, and taxes. When I die I want to give what I have:

  1. To whom I want;

  2. The way I want; and

  3. When I want.

Client-Centric Estate Planning Process steps:

  1. Education

  2. Design

  3. Drafting documents

  4. Explanation/Implementation

  5. Dealing with changes

  6. Administration

  7. The Next Generation

Benefits of a Living Trust

  • Avoids probate at death, including multiple probates if you own property in other states

  • Prevents court control of assets at incapacity

  • Brings all of your assets together under one plan

  • Provides maximum privacy

  • Quicker distribution of assets to beneficiaries

  • Assets can remain in trust until you want beneficiaries to inherit

  • Can reduce or eliminate estate taxes

  • Inexpensive, easy to set up and maintain

  • Can be changed or cancelled at any time

  • Difficult to contest

  • Prevents court control of minor's inheritances

  • Can protect dependents with special needs

  • Prevents unintentional disinheriting and other problems of joint ownership

  • Professional management with corporate trustee

  • Peace of mind

Benefits of a Life Insurance Trust

  • Gives you maximum control over insurance policy and how proceeds are used.

  • Inexpensive way to provide for children and/or grandchildren when the estate includes assets that are not readily susceptible to equal division, such as businesses, real estate, art, and collections.

  • Assets kept in trust are protected from beneficiaries’ creditors (including divorce proceedings) and irresponsible spending.

  • Proceeds avoid probate, and are free from income and estate taxes.

  • Can provide income to spouse without insurance proceeds being included in spouse’s estate.

  • Prevents court from controlling insurance proceeds if a beneficiary is incapacitated.

  • Provides immediate cash to pay expenses after death, including estate taxes if necessary.

  • Reduces estate taxes by removing insurance from your estate.

Funding Your Living Trust

Assets You Probably Want in Your Living Trust:

  • Real property (home, land, other real estate)

  • Bank/credit union accounts, safe deposit boxes n Investments (CDs, stocks, mutual funds, etc.)

  • Notes payable (money owed to you)

  • Life insurance (or use irrevocable trust)

  • Business interests, intellectual proper ty

  • Oil and gas interests, foreign assets

  • Personal untitled property

  • AssetsYou May NotWant inYour LivingTrust

  • IRAs and other tax-deferred retirement accounts n Incentive stock options and Section 1244 stock

  • Interests in professional corporations

What A Trustee Does:

At Incapacity

  • Oversees care of ill person

  • Understands insurance benefits and limitations • Looks after care of any minors and dependents • Applies for disability benefits

  • Puts together team of advisors

  • Notifies bank and others

  • Transacts necessary business

  • Keeps accurate records and accounting

At Death

  • Contacts attorney to review trust and process • Keeps beneficiaries informed

  • Puts together team of advisors

  • Inventories assets, determines current values

  • Makes partial distributions if needed

  • Collects benefits, keeps records, files tax returns • Pays bills, does final accounting

  • Distributes assets to beneficiaries as trust directs

Could an Estate Attorney Help?

Look at These 18 Real-Life Situations below. If you can relate to any of these situations, you could probably benefit from the services of a knowledgeable Estate Attorney:

Building Wealth with Professional Asset Management

  • My spouse took care of all our investments. Since he (she) died, I don’t know what to do or whom to trust.

  • I don’t know where I should invest my money. I’m so confused by everything I read.

  • I just received a large inheritance. I’ve never had to invest this much money before.

  • I travel a lot now (business or pleasure) and I don’t have time to manage my investments like I used to.

  • I recently sold my business (or other assets). Now I just need to figure out how to invest my money.

  • I just received a large settlement from a lawsuit, divorce, etc.

Wealth Protection with Retirement/Estate Planning

  • I’m retiring soon. I’m not sure how I should take distributions from my IRA and other plans.

  • I’m a business owner/professional and I’m wondering what my options are for retirement plans.

  • I’m changing jobs. Should I take a lump sum distribution from my current retirement plan?

  • I want to avoid probate and save estate taxes.

Smooth Settling of an Estate

  • I’m executor/personal representative of my father’s estate (trustee of my father’s trust). I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or how to do it.

Peace of Mind at Incapacity

  • I worry about what will happen to me and my money if I become mentally or physically incapacitated.

  • I’m concerned about my mother (father). I don’t have the time to help her with her finances, and I’m worried she might be taken in by some scam.

Caring for Loved Ones/Gifts

  • One of my children is not responsible with his own money. I shudder to think what will happen to his inheritance—my money—after I die.

  • I want my children to be responsible and productive—not spoiled or lazy from a large inheritance.

  • I’d like to make gifts to my children and grandchildren to save estate taxes.

  • I have a child with special needs. I worry about what will happen to him when something happens to me.

  • I’d like to make a large gift to a charity.

Call us to set your initial consultation today. We can help you rest at ease knowing that your future and the future of your family are well taken care of.

About the Company:

Mason & Associates, formerly known as Heritage Law Group, PLLC, is a boutique Estate Planning and Elder Law firm assisting residents in Tennessee and Kentucky. We are dedicated to providing client-centered, professional legal services that are individualized through one-on-one consultations. We delight in empowering our clients and community through education and providing specialized resources. Our integrity-driven team will help you protect your legacy while delivering outstanding quality at a reasonable cost. Your Legacy Is Our Priority™

Jake Mason, J.D., LL.M. (Elder Law & Estate Planning), CELA, EPLS, is the Owner of Mason & Associates Law Firm in Gallatin, Tennessee. He is Certified as an Elder Law Attorney with the National Elder Law Foundation, is board-certified in Estate Planning and Probate by The Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc., of the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils, is accredited by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, and is licensed in Kentucky and Tennessee. Mason is the only attorney in Tennessee or Kentucky with Board-Certifications in both Elder Law & Estate Planning. Contact us to schedule a consultation via phone, in-office, or video conference at (615) 989-7054 or

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