Welcome to the 1st edition of the Whitcomb Firm P.C.’s new quarterly e-newsletter. We know life gets hectic so we want to keep in touch and keep you informed of all things legal and what’s happening within our firm.
Although winter can seem long and bitter it’s a perfect time to sit down and get all your affairs in order. Here are a few simple steps to consider for estate planning:
1. Make a will.
In a will, you state who you want to inherit your property and name a guardian to care for your young children (if applicable) should something happen to you and the other parent.
2. Consider a trust.
If you hold your property in a living trust, your survivors won't have to go through probate court, a time-consuming and expensive process.
3. Make health care directives.
Writing out your wishes for health care can protect you if you become unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Health care directives include a health care declaration ("living will") and a power of attorney for health care, which gives someone you choose the power to make decisions if you can't. (In some states, these documents are combined into one, called an advance health care directive.)
4. Make a financial power of attorney.
With a durable power of attorney for finances,you can give a trusted person authority to handle your finances and property if you become incapacitated and unable to handle your own affairs. The person you name to handle your finances is called your agent or attorney-in-fact (but doesn't have to be an attorney).
5. Consider life insurance.
If you have young children or own a house, or you may owe significant debts or estate tax when you die, life insurance may be a good idea.
6. Understand estate taxes.
Most estates -- more than 99.7% -- won't owe federal estate taxes. For deaths in 2013, the federal government will impose estate tax at your death only if your taxable estate is worth more than $5.25 million; in 2014, the individual exemption is $5.34 million. Also, married couples can transfer up to twice the exempt amount tax-free, and all assets left to a spouse (as long as the spouse is a U.S. citizen) or tax-exempt charities are exempt from the tax.
7. Make final arrangements.
Make your wishes known regarding organ and body donation and disposition of your body -- burial or cremation.
8. Protect your business.
If you're the sole owner of a business, you should have a succession plan. If you own a business with others, you should have a buyout agreement.
9. Store your documents.
Your attorney-in-fact and/or your executor (the person you choose in your will to administer your property after you die) may need access to the following documents:
* insurance policies
* real estate deeds
* certificates for stocks, bonds, annuities
* information on bank accounts, mutual funds, and safe deposit boxes
* information on retirement plans, 401(k) accounts, or IRAs
* information on debts: credit cards, mortgages and loans, utilities, and unpaid taxes
* information on funeral prepayment plans, and any final arrangements instructions you have made
If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment to go over estate planning give our office a call.
FIRM NOTES & NEWS
We just celebrated our 2nd anniversary in the new office space located at 39 Niagara Street in Canandaigua.
We have had some new staff members join our team since opening the doors in 2013:
Michelle Kingston – She started in October 2013 as Office manager. She will be the smiling face that greets you at the door, handle any of your billing & scheduling needs and any general questions you might have for the firm.
Candace Snyder – Started in January 2013 as a Paralegal. She is Dave’s right hand woman and our Real Estate guru. She is also a notary public so please feel free to stop on by if you need something notarized.