Estate planning is the proactive, systematic process of “putting your affairs in order” so you can minimize the impact (includes tax, legal, accounting and administrative costs) on your estate when you die, while maximizing the assets available to your heirs and other beneficiaries. Since estate planning is one of the most significant initiatives you will undertake, it has a direct and substantial impact on the lives of your family and other loved ones. With the proper planning and professional financial and legal advice, you can enjoy the confidence and peace of mind that comes with a comprehensive, carefully constructed estate plan.
Whether you’re thinking about your own estate or helping another family member (e.g., a parent) plan for theirs, the ultimate goals of estate planning are to protect family members and ensure that a person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes.
Benefit from a customized approach to estate planning
Since physicians have unique requirements beyond those of the average investor, including the possibility of incorporating a practice and having significant assets to manage, you should engage the estate planning and trust services of a specialist (like your MD Estate and Trust Advisor) who has the deep knowledge and proven expertise to address your specific needs. When you work with a specialist (or team of specialists) to address your estate and trust planning needs, you’ll be able to leave a more valuable legacy and your heirs will benefit from an efficient, effective settlement of the estate.
A specialist can offer you other key estate and trust services, such as:
- Trust planning. Create long-term financial security by ensuring that your needs and those of your dependants are always met.
- Estate settlement. Whether you are an executor looking for assistance or are considering whom to appoint as an executor, you want to work with a proven expert who can relieve the tremendous complexity, time demands and stress associated with estate settlement / administration.
- Philanthropy. Enjoy the satisfaction of being able to give a valuable gift to a valued alma mater, medical institution or charitable cause that is meaningful to you.
- Trust administration. An appointed trustee can look after protection of the assets held in the trust and ensure that use of the assets is in strict accordance with your expressed wishes.
Consider using trusts for special circumstances
Setting up trusts for your family members or other heirs may be an important component of estate planning, and can make sense when leaving a lump-sum inheritance might not be a viable option.
The two main types of trusts are:
- inter vivos, which are implemented while you are still alive and can address important tax efficiency concerns and other personal needs; and
- testamentary, which are created via the terms set out in your will and implemented after you die, and can help direct how your estate’s assets will be managed and distributed to your beneficiaries.
Two common types of inter vivos trusts are:
- alter ego trusts and joint partner trusts, which are designed for individuals and couples, respectively, looking to maintain control of trust assets during their lifetime.
Examples of testamentary trusts include:
- spousal trusts, which are created in your will to protect your spouse’s (and your children’s) eventual inheritance, while also ensuring your assets are distributed the way you had intended; and
- Henson trusts, which can help ensure your special-needs child is financially supported after you die.