What is estate planning?
As unpleasant as it may be to think about let alone discuss and plan for, we all face the inevitable. When we die, our ability to talk to our spouse, children heirs, friends, and care and provide for them dies with us. They are left with unanswered questions and oftentimes mounting debt. Questions like who gets diamond earrings, the gold watch, the house? Who pays the bills left behind? If inheritance taxes need to be paid, what asset should be cashed in to pay this? Who has access to these assets? Not only in instances of death, but if you become disabled, who do you want to look after your assets? This is what estate planning is all about.
Answering these questions beforehand to YOUR specifications and ultimately planning for the inevitable.
Here are some common estate planning instruments that an attorney can assist you with:
A will is a document that one write instructing the world who you want to administer your affairs after death. It instructs on things like, how you want your property divided, who should raise your minor children, what happens to your body. If left undone, these are all things that can leave your family and affairs in disrepair causing undue stress on the loved ones you leave behind. This is why wills are necessary for everyone, not just the affluent.
A revocable trust is a factitious, or artificial entity that owns all your assets–sort of like a corporation. Up to the time you become disabled, you can modify this artificial entity by amending it to your current needs and circumstances. Once you are disabled, a successor trustee (manager) takes over managing the affairs of the trust. This successor trustee is normally nominated by you in your trust. Upon your death, this successor trustee must distribute your assets as you desire. Revocable trusts are popular today because this avoids the need for probate court and the legal expenses associated with that process. Also trusts can attach strings to your assets like making sure that your beneficiaries’ creditors cannot get your assets: a spendthrift trust. Another reason you might opt for a trust is to ensure privacy. Only beneficiaries are entitled to see your trust documents unlike in probate court where your information is public record.
Power of Attorney:
This is a document one signs before a notary and witnesses giving a trusted agent power to sign your name on deeds, bank accounts, mortgages, and the like. A durable power of attorney lasts until the day you die.
Health Care Power of Attorney:
This is a document one signs giving a trusted person the power to decide life and death questions affecting your health. This document goes through various scenarios that may occur and expresses your wishes that this trusted person needs to carry out when you are unable.
If you’d like to know how I can help you with estate planning, please use my contact form located below.