Estate Planning Basics
No matter what your financial situation may be, it’s important to have an Estate Plan in place. An Estate Plan ensures that that your finances and assets are in order should you die or become incapacitated. Estate Planning also saves your family a great deal of time and money, both of which will become invaluable during a difficult time.
An estate plan includes a variety of documents:
A Will is a personal declaration about what happens to your assets and personal belongings upon your death. With a Will you can designate an executor, assign a guardian for children under the age of 18 and declare beneficiaries of your property and assets, be it a person, charity or other organization. A Will can be changed by you at any time before your death provided you are mentally fit.
Power of Attorney
Assigning a trusted individual Power of Attorney gives them the ability to act on your behalf should you die or become incapacitated. Depending on the agreement, this person may make financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf. A person who makes medical decisions for you is also known as a Health Care Proxy. Creating a Living Will can also be helpful, as it allows the decision-making individuals to know of your wishes should you reach a state where you cannot dictate your own medical care. Many Health Care Power of Attorney documents contain the provisions commonly found in a living will.
A Living Trust is a financial agreement that allows a third party to maintain and hold assets for a beneficiary. Trusts are used to manage and protect assets. In some cases, establishing a trust can have beneficial tax implications, qualify you for benefits and programs otherwise not obtainable and avoid probate administration. Beneficiaries can usually access your assets more quickly if a trust is established.
Other aspects of Estate Planning can include Living Trusts, Medicaid Planning and Veterans Benefits.
Goals of your Estate Plan
The goal of an Estate Plan is to preserve your wealth while maintaining flexibility for your beneficiaries. Some questions you should ask yourself during your estate planning process include:
● Who receives your property and financial assets when you die?
● How should you split assets among your heirs?
● Who can you trust to execute your Will?
● Who manages your finances if you cannot do it yourself?
● Who speaks on your behalf regarding health decisions if you cannot do it yourself?
Estate planning also prevents confusion or disputes among your heirs. It’s important to discuss your plans with them to allow for questions or concerns while you can still answer them.
At Wilson Law, P.A. we have years of experience with Estate Planning. Having these documents in order at the time of your death will be invaluable to your family, so contact us today for a free consultation.