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M. Franklin Parrish
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For a married couple with a net worth of $12,060,000 or less, the most flexible estate plan will often include the following documents:

  1. Revocable Living Trust/Restatement Of Trust: includes optional estate tax savings techniques, including (e.g., a Survivor’s Marital Trust and a Disclaimer Trust), as well as provisions to maintain privacy, avoid problems in asset management in the event of incapacity, avoid probate, and include Children’s Trusts and Grandchildren’s Trusts. Such Children’s Trusts and Grandchildren’s Trusts may be structured as “asset protection” Trusts for the benefit of such individuals. Please understand that a “Restatement Of Trust” simply refers to a complete amendment of the original Revocable Living Trust.
  2. Pour-Over Will: governs any assets not transferred into The Revocable Living Trust, and is important for the appointment of a Guardian for minor children, as well as to include specific burial instructions and anatomical bequest.
  3. Durable Power Of Attorney: avoids the need of a court supervised Conservatorship in the event of incapacity. However, the Durable Power Of Attorney only governs assets not titled in a Trust (e.g., retirement plans). In addition, a Durable Power Of Attorney terminates immediately upon the death of the principal (e.g., the creator of the Durable Power Of Attorney).
  4. Advance Health Care Directive: grants to another individual the authority to make health care decisions in the event you are unable to make the same. This document replaces all prior health care documents and also contains a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, as well as a designation of your primary physician.
  5. Property Status Agreement:  defines the character of all property interests for federal income taxation purposes. It also converts joint tenancy property into community property.
  6. Assignment of Tangible Personal Property: general documentation to reflect your objective that investments of various kinds (i.e., antiques, collectibles, household possessions, jewelry, etc.), are considered as Trust assets, and not subject to probate. It is guaranteed to avoid probate of such assets.
  7. Assignment of Intangible Personal Property: general documentation to reflect your objective that investments of various kinds (i.e., marketable securities, mutual funds, closely-held businesses interests, etc.), are considered as Trust
  8. Homestead Declaration: provides limited protection of your residence from creditor claims.

The center piece of this estate plan is a Revocable Living Trust in which the husband and wife are both Co-Settlors. The $12,060,000 figure is utilized because under the current law, each U.S. Citizen is entitled to an exclusion from federal estate taxation equal to the above Dollar amount. It is also annually adjusted for inflation. In 2022, the Applicable Exclusion Amount is $12,060,000.