Understand Estate Planning And Probate And Get The Guidance You Need
Estate planning is fundamental to life as an adult of any age. It is just as important as car insurance, health insurance or any type of smart planning for future “what ifs.” In the case of estate planning, however, it is a sure thing that each of us will someday leave this life. If we leave any assets behind or if we leave behind people we care about, we need to think about estate planning and take action.
If you fail to put an estate plan in place, you are, in fact, making several decisions by your omission:
You are leaving it to the state to decide how your assets will be distributed after your death.
You could unknowingly set up some situation you would never have intended, such as leaving a loved one with nothing, although in life you cared greatly about that person.
You are setting up your family for potential disputes with health care providers and with each other if your health declines and others are watching out for your well-being.
You increase your vulnerability to scams of all kinds targeting elderly people.
If, however, you plan ahead and establish your legacy in advance of the time of need, you will be able to:
Make your wishes known in legally binding forms, facilitating the passing on of assets according to your intent
Let doctors and family members know your health care preferences, applicable in a time of crisis or when you cannot speak for yourself
Enable trusted family or friends to manage your financial affairs and health care decisions if you are unable to do so yourself
Prevent family fights and disputes between your family and doctors
Leave your loved ones the great gift of a peaceful end-of-life transition when your time comes
So what does estate planning consist of? The specific combination of documents and provisions in an estate plan will vary from one person to the next. However, there are a number of common denominators that define an estate plan in most cases. Your ideal estate plan may include one or more of the following:
A will: Most people realize the importance of a will. Even so, every day, well-meaning people leave their families with legal challenges through failure to put this foundational document in place, updated and properly signed.
Powers of attorney: A durable power of attorney allows your designated representative to manage your financial affairs. A power of attorney can be issued temporarily. It can be revoked or revised. A power of attorney is good only while you are still living.
A trust or trusts: Several types of trusts, such as living trusts, revocable trusts and special needs trusts can keep assets out of probate. A trustee will have control of assets in a trust with no need to take them through probate court. In some families, gun trusts are important.
A health care directive (living will or health care power of attorney): Spelling out your health care wishes and giving a close family member or trusted friend the right to make decisions when necessary can prevent indecision, conflicts and trouble in a time of crisis.
Get Your Estate Plan Up To Date — Handle Probate With Reassurance