• Less time and cost to set up (does not require "Funding" or much decision-making)
  • Allows for tax planning (but requires setting up costly Testamentary Trusts after probate)
  • Names Guardian for Minor Children


  • Requires probate
  • Public Record: Financial and Asset Information Filed with Courthouse and available for public inspection
  • Only takes effect after you are dead
  • No Incapacity Planning: Judge decides who makes living, financial and medical decisions for you
  • Requires Court or Judge oversight and approval
  • More expensive to administer
  • Takes longer to administer through court process
  • May be easier to contest than a Trust

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  • Begins working immediately upon signing - Alive and Well.
  • Private: Only between you and your lawyer.
  • Not filed or published in the courthouse.
  • Does not require Probate.
  • Does not require Court or Judge oversight or approval.
  • Provides protection in the event of your incapacity or disability.
  • Easier to protect assets in protective trust shares to the kids.
  • Provides asset protection from new spouse, or from the kids' bankruptcy, divorce or lawsuits
  • Allows for specific gifting of specific land or assets to particular individuals
  • Allows for tax planning
  • Allows for generation skipping (from you directly to the grandkids or great-grandkids)
  • Not as easily contested as a Will
  • Easier to administer after death: Less cost and less time to administer


  • More work and expense to set up (you have to make decisions up front)
  • Requires "Funding" or changing title and ownership of assets in order to work

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  • Used to Avoid Probate Process
  • Uses Beneficiary Designations, POD and TOD designations instead of Will
  • Keeps your Financial and Asset documents out of public view in the courthouse
  • Does not create a present gift or penalty period for Medical Assistance
  • Less costly than Probate


  • Does not protect home or assets from Nursing Home
  • Does not provide for Incapacity or Disability Planning
  • Must be used in conjunction with POA, HCD & HIPAA

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  • Power of Attorney
    • Durable vs. Non-Durable
    • Immediate vs. Springing
    • Common Law vs. Statutory Short Form
  • Health Care Directive
    • Appoints a Health Care Agent
  • Living Will
    • Provides Health Care Agent with your preferences concerning Health, Medical, Emergency and End-of-Life Options
  • HIPAA Authorization
    • Authorizes your Health Care Agent to access your confidential medical records and discuss your treatment, services, medications, diagnosis and prognosis with your doctor

For detailed information on incapacity and disability planning, click here
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  • What is the farm: Tillable Acres? Equipment & Machinery? The Building Site?
  • Should I Plan Transition During Life or Succession After Death
  • Preserving Assets for the Next Generation
    • Long-Term Care Insurance?
    • Life Insurance?
  • Minimizing Capital Gains, Estate, and Income Taxes
  • Ensuring Adequate Retirement Income
  • Sellers Goals (Mom & Dad) vs. Buyers Goals (Kids)
    • Transferring Ownership
    • Ability to Finance Buy-Out
    • Gifting vs. Selling
  • Farming as an Entity?
    • Family Limited Partnerships (FLP)
    • Limited Liability Companies (LLC)
    • Corporations (C and S Corps)
    • Buy-Sell Agreements?



  • Provides Liability Limitation and Asset Protection
  • Good for Ease of Ownership of multiple assets
  • Provides for Ease of Transferring Wealth
  • Easier and more efficient for Gifting Strategies
  • Retains control over business and assets
  • May provide for adequate income after Retirement
  • May Reduce Estate Tax, Income Tax, and/or Self-Employment Tax
  • Enables "Discounting" of the value of underlying assets
  • Ease of Succession Planning after death
  • Enables continuity of the Business after death


  • Additional expense to set up
  • Additional bookkeeping requirements to maintain
  • Likely requires annual renewal and update filings

For detailed information on entity planning strategies, click here
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  • Using Insurance to Cover the Risk of Loss
  • Entity Planning to Limit Scope of Liability
  • Separating Personal Liability from Business Liability
  • Gifting Strategies for Protecting Assets from Nursing Home
  • Use of Supplemental or Special Needs Trusts to Protect Assets for Beneficiaries with Disabilities
  • Protective Trust Shares for Kids' Liability for Divorce, Lawsuits or Bankruptcy
  • Pre-Nuptial Planning to Protect Surviving Spouse and Kids


  • Trust Planning to Minimize or Avoid Federal and/or State Estate Taxes
  • Using Stepped-up Basis at Death to Avoid Capital Gains Taxes
  • Irrevocable Trusts to Decrease Taxable Estate
  • Gifting Strategies (Annual Exclusion and Lifetime Exclusion) to Reduce Taxable Estate
  • Entity Planning Providing Passive Income to Reduce Self-Employment Tax
  • IRC ?179 Accelerated Depreciation to Reduce Taxable Income
  • Charitable Giving to Avoid Income Taxes


  • Protecting Assets from the Nursing Home
  • Medicaid (SD) / Medical Assistance (MN)
    • Gifting Rules (5 year look back)
    • Penalty Period for Gifting
    • Spend-down Rules for eligibility
    • Asset Assessment for Married Couples
  • Asset Protection Strategies
    • Life Estates?
    • Irrevocable Trusts?


  • Trust planning to continue asset limitation eligibility for persons receiving government assistance due to disability
  • Supplemental Needs Trusts
    • Established for the benefit of another person
    • Remaining Trust Assets Pass to Family Members
  • Special Needs Trusts
    • Established by the person's own assets
    • Remaining Trust Assets First Go to Repay Government for Amount Spent on the Persian's Medical Care
  • Useful for passing the benefit of assets to child with disability while preserving their eligibility for government assistance like Social Security or Medicaid
  • Used to provide for the "extras" beyond the necessities provided by governmental assistance programs


  • Naming Charities, Church, Cemetery Foundation, VFW, Kids Against Hunger, Missions, and Other Charitable Giving Options
  • Use of Trust Planning to Secure Land or Other Real Estate for Generations
  • Cabin Trusts to Provide upkeep and maintenance and use of Vacation Home for multiple generations
  • Charitable Remainder and Charitable Lead Trusts
    • Gift of Assets to Charity Ensures Income Payments for a Determined Period of Time
    • Provides for Income Tax Savings
    • Provides for charitable giving
    • Income Payments can fund wealth replacement insurance policies
  • Grantor Retained Interest Trust (GRIT), Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRAT), Grantor Retained Unitrust (GRUT)
  • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust (IDGT)
  • Establishing Charitable Foundations for Education and Other Charitable Purposes