While it can be extremely uncomfortable and stressful to discuss what is to happen to your belongings at the time of your passing, there is no way around the fact that it is imperative that we ALL properly and fully account for our estates in a responsible manner. We owe it to ourselves and our family members to ensure that our heirs are insulated from the potential problems that arise from a poorly planned future.
Estate planning is crucial as it gives you control over your assets not only after death but during your life as well. Preparing a will and trust will ensure that you retain control and that the government and others do not get a say in how your assets will be distributed after your death. Regardless of the size of your estate, it is vital to prepare an estate plan. By planning ahead, you will be guaranteeing that you minimize the legal fees and taxes for your heirs. Additionally, if you become incapacitated, advance directives become very important in the handling of your affairs.
Many people have a difficult time confronting issues such as what will happen after their death but dying without a will or trust means that you will have no control over protecting your assets and planning for your family’s future. If you properly plan out the distribution of your estate, you will save your family members time and money and will also provide yourself with a piece of mind that you know what will happen to your assets in the future.
It is best for individuals to prepare an all encompassing estate plan which usually includes a will, a trust, a power of attorney, as well as an advance health care directive. Additionally, if you have already obtained an estate plan, make sure you have it reviewed by a competent attorney every 5 years as the laws are constantly changing.
Will: A will appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes at the time of your death. This usually includes the distribution of your property, establishing who will care for your children, any wishes you have regarding burial or funeral arrangements among other things. A will is put in place to ensure that your desires are executed as planned at the time of your death.
Living Trusts: Everyone should have a living trust prepared, no matter the size of your estate. Whether you have only one house or many properties, a trust is vital in helping your heirs avoid probate. Unlike a will, which is a public record, a trust remains a private document that can only be seen by an appointed trustee or a successor trustee. Preparing a trust will ensure that your property is distributed as you wish at the time of your death. A trust will also assist your heirs in reducing the amount of taxes they are required to pay.
Advance Health Care Directive: An Advance Health Care Directive will specify who can make health care decisions in the event you are unable to make the decisions yourself. Most individuals do not inform their significant others or their close family members as to what their exact wishes would be if they were placed in such a position, therefore preparing an Advance Health Care Directive provides assurance that decisions regarding your future medical care will reflect your own values and desires.
Power of Attorney: A Power of Attorney will allow you to authorize someone else to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so yourself. There are different types of power of attorney ranging from providing limited power to a more broad range of powers. The power of attorney can be prepared for each individual’s unique situation.
It is clear that a thorough estate plan is necessary for all individuals. It provides you a way to maintain control of the future of your assets as well as its effect on your heirs. If you would like more information regarding setting up an estate plan, please contact our offices today.
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