Estate planning is not a very glamorous subject, and some people may think they don’t need to do it at all. Maybe you and your spouse have two grown children, and you know that when you pass everything will be given to them, but often there is a little more to it than that. Yes, state intestacy laws (laws that govern the estates of those who do not have a will or trust set up) typically give the deceased’s possessions to their children or their children’s children, but other issues are often overlooked, and a comprehensive estate plan can ensure that your descendants and/or inheritor do not have to deal with anymore stress than necessary. Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult enough without having to contemplate all of the financial and familial issues that can come with the intestacy process
A comprehensive estate plan can include a: will and/or a trust, a financial power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and an advanced directive.
A Last Will & Testament appoints someone to be the executor of your estate, and then tells the executor who should receive your assets, and who should be your children’s guardian if they are under age 18. Contrary to popular belief, people who die with a will have to have their estate probated by the court, just like someone who dies without a will. Essentially, if you die with a will, the court has to approve that the will is valid, and then oversee the process of distributing the estate. This can take months of even years. Someone who dies without a will, will also have to have their estate probated by the court. This involves identifying the proper heirs under state law, and again overseeing the distribution of the estate.
A trust can be used to supplement or instead of a will. Essentially, while you are alive, you place your assets into a trust, with yourself serving as administrator of the trust. You will also need to appoint someone to serve as administrator of the trust when you pass away, so when the time comes they can distribute the estate as you desired. Placing things into a trust can also help with estate taxes if needed.
A financial power of attorney appoints someone to manage your finances if you become incapacitated. If you are a small business owner, this can include business decisions, but also personal financial issues like paying bills, your rent/mortgage, etc.
A medical power of attorney appoints someone to make medical decisions in your stead if you are unable to.
An advanced directive establishes what level of care you want to receive if you are in a persistent vegetative state or end of life scenario.
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It’s never too early to begin estate planning. No one knows what the future holds, but with a plan in place that provides for your own future needs and those of your loved ones, you can proceed with peace of mind. If you or a friend or loved one are considering estate planning for the first time, or are in need of updating an existing plan, please contact the attorney at Skillern Law Firm, PLLC by phone at 918-805-2511 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to also book an appointment with our firm using our Book an Appointment Online page!