Basic 4   |   Various Trusts   |   Other Planning Methods   |   Definitions and Considerations   |   Vermont Intestate Will   |   Top Estate Planning Mistakes   |   Estate Tax Exemptions   |   10 Estate Planning Myths   |   Protect Your Home


Life and Estate Planning can be complicated areas. They often use unfamiliar terms, ‘legaleze’ and an alphabet soup of acronyms. The following pages and web site links are provided to help you understand these terms and concepts better. The more you understand, the more effectively you will be able to think about your planning needs and to work with your attorney and other advisors.

In Basic 4 you will find an outline of the four key documents that form the basis of your Life and Estate Plan and a brief description of what they do and don’t do. The Basic four includes a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD) and a HIPAA Release.

In Various Trusts there is a discussion of the various Trusts that can be used in the Estate Planning process to accomplish a variety of goals.

In Other Planning Methods you will learn about some other planning methods, some good others not so good. These include the Reserved Life Estate Deed, which I frequently recommend for both Medicaid and general planning. I also mention the use of account designations to pass property and avoid Probate. I discuss the overuse and pitfalls of using Joint Accounts or Joint Names as a substitute for real planning as well.

This is an outline that briefly explains some of the basic Definitions and Considerations. It should help you understand the language we use in planning and gives you some suggestions to think about in advance of meeting with me or any other planner.

Many people have misconceptions about what happens to their property if they die without a will. All your property doesn’t go to the State. But the State does have a plan for you. In the Vermont Intestate Will, I have tried to illustrate how your estate would be dealt with under the Vermont Laws that direct how your property is divided if you don’t have a will. It is in the form of a Will so you can see how your desires might differ from the State plan. (NOTE: The Vermont Intestacy Statute was revised effective 6/1/09. This example has not been updated to reflect the new law.)

The Top 5 Planning Mistakes is an article which I wrote for a special publication by the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus newspaper.

10 Estate Planning Myths is another article I wrote for the Times Argus. It discusses some of the mistaken conventional ‘wisdom’ about Estate and Medicaid planning that is prevalent today.

This is a handy reference to the current and upcoming Estate and Gift Tax exemptions in Estate Tax Exemptions. Do you have a potential tax issue?