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Often when people hear the phrase “estate planning” they think they are not sick or wealthy enough to need a plan. This is a misconception.
A well prepared estate plan allows you to control your assets while you are alive, manage your assets in the case of incapacitation, and dictate the manner upon which they will be distributed upon your death.
While every estate plan is different, most estate plans involve a number of important legal documents.
A document that details how you want your personal property, real property and other assets to be distributed when you die.
A document that holds title and controls your assets during your life, disability and death with a high level of control and privacy.
A document that allows you to designate a person to access and control your financial affairs and other matters immediately or when a triggering event occurs.
A document that states what type of medical care and treatment you desire if you need life sustaining medical treatment.
A document that allows you to designate a person to access and make decisions about your medical care and treatment if you are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
Any additional documents that help execute your estate planning goals during your life and more.
Now! Estate planning is not just about protecting and preserving your assets, so you don’t need to wait until you feel wealthy enough, settled enough, or old enough to start the estate planning process. Everyone needs an estate plan, no matter where they are in their life, financial, and career paths.
A comprehensive estate plan is essential to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets if you are ever faced with illness, injury, incapacity, or death.
What you need for your comprehensive estate plan is 100% based on your specific circumstances and goals. That’s why working with an experienced attorney is essential when creating an estate plan: not everyone needs the same documents.
However, as a baseline, almost all individuals need a Will, a financial Power of Attorney, an Advance Healthcare Directive, and a HIPAA Authorization. Individuals with more complex circumstances or greater assets may also choose to incorporate Trusts and other estate planning documents into their comprehensive plans.
It depends. Everyone needs a Last Will and Testament, even if they also have a Revocable Trust. However, not everyone needs a Revocable Trust alongside their Last Will and Testament.
Whether you need a Revocable Trust comes down to your specific circumstances and estate planning goals. Wondering if you might be a good fit for a Revocable Trust? If you have minor children, own property in multiple states, own a business, live in a state with high probate costs, or wish to exercise control over how and when your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries, a Revocable Trust may be right for you.
Absolutely! Placing your assets into a Revocable Trust does not take away your ability to control your assets. You will still be able to perform transactions with your assets and make any decisions you see fit.
By placing your assets into a Trust, you are able to select a trusted individual who can immediately step in and take control of your assets if and when you are unable to do so. This individual can step in temporarily, if you become incapacitated, or take full control of your assets (and distribute them according to your wishes) when you pass.
When you create your estate plan, one of the decisions you will make is to identify individuals who you trust to take actions on your behalf.
The PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE is the person you appoint to oversee the probate of your estate. Your personal representative is identified in your Last Will and Testament.
If you choose to create a Revocable Trust (or any other kind of trust), you will select a TRUSTEE. This person will be responsible for overseeing the administration of your trust instructions once you are no longer able to do so.
An ATTORNEY-IN-FACT (or “Agent”) is the person you identify in your Power of Attorney. This person is enabled to take financial action on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Each of these roles may be filled by the same person or by different individuals.
We know that starting the estate planning process can be intimidating. That’s why we don’t require you to have everything in order before you meet with an attorney. In fact, gathering and sorting through documents and information can be much easier once you have spoken with an attorney and gotten some guidance about what needs to be included and what does not.
So, to start the estate planning process, all you need to do is schedule an appointment. Once appointment is set, we will send you our Estate Planning Questionnaire. Please remember that this questionnaire is just to help give us a ballpark idea about your assets and your goals. It does not have to be perfect!
Don’t put off planning for yourself, your family and your business. Allow us to use our expertise to form a comprehensive estate plan for you.