We work with clients to plan how assets should be passed on to heirs and charities with minimal tax payment to yield an optimal result. We help clients create a plan that is simple and inexpensive to administer, and that retains flexibility to accommodate unforeseen circumstances while fully accomplishing client objectives. This preparation and planning pays off in significant reductions in attorney fees as final estate documents are created, and it also often yields substantial savings in inheritance taxes at the time of asset transfers.
Gifting and Philanthropy:
We often help structure charitable donations, private foundations, land conservation plans and philanthropic trusts to achieve giving goals as part of a client legacy. We also implement gifting programs to family members and others as part of overall estate planning. For gifts of tangible items we are knowledgeable about required appraisal processes and filings. For more complex philanthropic structures, such as private foundations, and charitable lead or remainder trusts, the firm’s partners may act as trustees and administer dedicated funds over time for specified purposes.
A person’s vision is only fully achieved if their estate plan is administered correctly when the time comes. Clients often name the partners of JM Forbes & Co as executors in their wills. In this role the partner, supported by the firm’s administrators and tax preparers, works with families and professional advisors to ensure the best outcome. Some tasks are straightforward such as paying debts, evaluating property, distributing legacies and making philanthropic gifts. Others can be intricate, such as operating or winding up a family business, selling real estate, seeing to the fair distribution of heirlooms, and filing of required tax returns.
Legacy Administration by Trustees:
An estate plan may create trusts, foundations, and other entities which implement the goals of the donor during his or her life and far beyond. Such structures can protect assets from tax, guide funds to heirs far into the future, establish and govern institutions, and much more. The partners of the firm may act as trustees to administer such structures for as long as required, often over many generations. As trustees, the partners invest the assets allocated to each purpose and make decisions going forward that are guided by the donor’s intent in the governing document, beneficiaries’ circumstances and needs, and by the relevant bodies of law.
Administration for Children:
Children cannot hold funds in their own name, yet many plans call for gifting by parents to children to reduce the parents’ taxable estate, and many trusts are designed to make payments for the benefit of children. Partners at JM Forbes & Co can act as custodian in these situations, accepting and investing assets in the name of the child, paying out as needed for education costs, medical expenses, and other purposes, and finally delivering this important nest-egg to the child at twenty-one.
We recommend that J.M. Forbes & Co. clients maintain a number of critical documents instructing and empowering trusted agents to act when the client cannot. The best estate planning and investment returns can be compromised if a few key documents are not created and then periodically tuned-up as life unfolds. Thus we recommend that clients keep each of the following documents current:
- Durable power of attorney: to enable a partner at the firm or a family member, or both, to act on a client’s behalf in financial matters in case of need.
- Will and/or Revocable Trust (if appropriate): to organize disposition of property and ongoing aspects of a client’s legacy.
- Healthcare proxy: naming another trusted person to make medical decisions when a person cannot make such decisions themselves. This may be supplemented by a Living Will to provide specific guidance on how to make such decisions under particular circumstances. A HIPAA form, authorizing access to medical records, may also be useful if not covered in the proxy document.
- Beneficiary designation: to direct retirement plan assets to the appropriate heirs.
We can retain these and other important client documents either in our files, both electronic and physical, or in our vault. In this way if any authorized person requires access to a healthcare proxy, will, trust, or beneficiary designation we will be able to supply it. Review of these documents should become a routine process from time to time to ensure that they do not become outdated.