Estate planning is not solely about planning for your death. It also involves planning for your life in the event you’re mentally incapacitated. Having an estate plan in place is very important because it reflects your wishes for your children, family, property and assets.
Is Estate Planning Often Overlooked?
Despite its extreme importance, estate planning is often overlooked and neglected. Many people work hard throughout their lives to provide for their families and build their estates, only to have the very things they’ve worked for and people to protect in disarray because they didn’t invest time in a comprehensive plan that reflects their wishes. Statistics show that more than 50% Americans do not have an estate plan in place at the time of their death. This is likely due to the average person’s unfamiliarity with the estate planning process itself. Because they do not understand its importance and how it works, many Americans forego wills, trusts and other estate documents.
Why do you Need an Estate Plan?
Without the proper documentation in place at the time of your death or incapacity, you are leaving it up to a judge you don’t know to decide how to distribute your assets throughout your family, who will care for your minor children, and who will care for you if you’re ever unable to care for yourself.
Five Questions to Answer in your Plan
In your plan, you want to proactively answer questions that may arise in the event of your death or incapacity. Generally, these questions will involve your assets, minor children, inheritances, health care directives and sometimes more.
Here are 5 questions you should answer in your plan:
• Who do you want to care for your minor children?
• Who will be responsible for managing your estates?
• How will your assets and property be distributed?
• Who will care for you if you’re unable to care for yourself?
• How will inheritances be distributed to beneficiaries?
Five Documents to Include in your Plan
A comprehensive estate plan is not a mere document. It’s actually a combination of several documents that reflect your wishes regarding your minor children, your health care, and distribution of your assets, property and inheritances in the event of your death. It also covers your health care wishes if you’re ever incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions.
Here are the minimum five (5) documents you should include in your estate plan:
• Power of Attorney
• Living Will and Advantage Directives
• Guardianship Plans for Minor Children
Many of us get uncomfortable when we think about dying and our family’s life without us. It’s not a topic anyone wants to consider more than once. However, it is critical that you take time now, while you’re healthy and in a good state of mind, to invest time in getting your estate, health and other affairs in order, and create an estate plan that reflects your wishes upon your death or incapacitation.
Documents to Consider When Doing Estate Planning
There’s nothing that can prevent someone from dying, since physical death is an absolute certainty that no one can escape. The fear for some people, though, is not what’s going to happen to them after they pass on, but more on who’s going to take care of their loved ones, especially if the people he’ll be leaving behind are either very young children or are incapacitated, or both. You can’t have control of what’s going to happen to you after death, but you sure can decide what’s going to happen to your assets once that event transpires.
It’s called estate planning. This is the process by which a person (or even a family) arranges the transfer of his assets in anticipation of his death. And in estate planning, there are several documents to consider. Here are some of them:
Last will and testament – This document takes front and center in all the planning. This is the document that legally provides for the transfers of assets after one’s death. It names a person to settle the estate, a trustee who will administer any trust established, and a guardian if there minor children. For those who die without having executed a will, they are considered to be ‘intestate.’ Under certain laws, if one is intestate, property goes first (or in major part) to a spouse, and then to children and their descendants.
Trust – Persons preparing a will and testament can execute either ‘inter vivo’ or testamentary trusts (trusts established through a will). The difference between the two is that with the former, assets are transferred into the living during the trust creator’s lifetime, as opposed to testamentary trusts, where the transfer becomes operative at the time of death.
Durable powers of attorney – A power of attorney is the document that authorizes a designated agent to carry out financial and business transactions for the person that’s establishing the document. This grants such agent to access bank accounts (and even brokerage accounts), deal with insurance companies, and even sell property. This effectively allows the agent to step into the shoes of the person he is assisting.
Healthcare power of attorney – This document is a form of a living will that is designed, among other things, to: provide instructions for the conditions should life-sustaining procedures be utilized, authorize who will make healthcare decisions, and ensure that the person chosen to make these decisions is given access to the executor’s medical records during incapacity.
These are the important documents to take into account so a person can have the opportunity to make personal and financial decisions, both in life and after death, without the need for court orders. Estate planning deals with certain legal issues, which makes it important for an individual to get the services of a lawyer while doing it. You can get attorneys estate planning at Pleasant View Utah.
Estate Planning Lawyers Protect A Client’s Property From Becoming State Property
Devising a plan as for how assets should be distributed in the event of a death is something that most people have given thought to, but not everybody has carried out. There are common misconceptions regarding this important aspect of preparing for the inevitable, and among them is the idea that most people do not have enough assets or property to constitute an entire estate.
This doesn’t have to include lavish homes, large sums of money or ownership rights to profitable business ventures. Anything of value must be considered, whether it’s land, antiques, jewelry or rare collections. For those who wish to pass their cherished possessions onto their loved ones, hiring estate planning lawyers to devise a living trust or will can be the best way to ensure that final wishes are carried out. Estate attorneys devise plans that are used to properly acquire, protect and allocate physical and liquid assets that are to be inherited, per the request of the testator.
Why Do Estate Attorneys Draft Wills And Trusts?
When it comes to planning, attorneys can guide clients through the legal process of drafting documents that state which beneficiaries will inherit specific possessions, and how much each beneficiary is entitled to.
There are two methods that estate planning lawyers use to protect their clients, their assets and their loved ones: living trusts and wills. Trusts and Wills are drafted by an attorney that specializes in elder law, where they take the instructions specified by their client and create a legally binding document that ensures that their assets are divided in ways that they consider fair and just. Trusts and Wills can be viewed as legal documents that complement one another. A Trust is used for planning purposes and serves to dictate how property and valuables will be distributed, with the Will being used to cover any property or assets that are not contained within a Trust. Wills and Trusts should be updated regularly as to reflect changes within the law. This small step is a very important requirement for protecting these documents from being disputed later on.
What Happens Without A Will Or Trust?
In the event that someone dies without drafting a Will or Trust, they are considered to have died intestate. When this happens, the state gains control of any possessions that belong to the deceased person and reserves the right to distribute them in ways that they consider to be appropriate. The most common scenario includes property and assets being divided amongst blood relatives. In addition to physical property, the state also makes the determination regarding the placement of any minor children. In the absence of a Will or Trust, many would-be beneficiaries are left without an inheritance. In addition to having little to no legal grounds for recourse, the amount of energy and financial assistance to successfully appeal a state-mandated division of assets leave many people with no options when it comes to collecting their promised share of an inheritance.
Hiring estate planning lawyers to draft a Trust or Will is the best way for individuals to guarantee that their final wishes are carried out. In addition to specializing in elder law issues, estate planning lawyers have the experience and knowledge that is necessary for protecting their clients within the legal system.
What Are the Different Services Provided by Estate Planning Lawyers?
Because life can be quite unpredictable, the earlier you begin planning, the more likely it is that the outcome will be favorable in the majority of cases. It is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your family to start putting a plan in place as soon as possible. However, even though it is reassuring to believe they will, unfortunately, numerous disagreements over money are commonplace in today’s world.
Consequently, it is preferable to put your wishes down on paper and in writing rather than verbally. This means that the nominee may not be the legal owner of the assets in question. The assets will be distributed according to the country’s succession laws if there is no will. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed in accordance with the country’s succession laws. In the vast majority of cases, obtaining legal representation is not a problem at all. Much in the same way that a doctor can guide you through their field of expertise, an attorney can guide you through the estate planning process to ensure that everything is done legally and properly, taking into account all of the minute details involved. Often, flat-fee wills and durable power of attorney (DPA) documents are drafted; however, hourly legal document maintenance work (often involving wills) is also available, as is being asked to act on behalf of a deceased individual and assist with the distribution of assets following the individual’s passing.
In the case of an individual who has power of attorney over the estate of a recently deceased individual, the completion of a probate court proceeding, also known as “probate,” will be required. Unquestionably true, but the extent to which this is true depends on the type of assets in the deceased’s estate and whether or not their ownership rights are defined in accordance with applicable state law in each individual instance. You should consult with an estate planning attorney if you have reason to believe that someone is planning to contest the will of a deceased family member or loved one or to sue the estate of a deceased family member or loved one. When a trust is involved, this type of litigation can quickly deplete the trust’s assets, putting all of the beneficiaries in a precarious financial position.
Do you require the services of a Wills and Estates Attorney?
If the estate is complex, the person is in good health, and a variety of other factors are taken into consideration, nearly everyone will require the services of an estate-planning attorney. When a family member cannot manage their financial affairs on their own, many people choose to hire an attorney to assist with the situation. Trusts are a type of estate planning tool used to manage property before a person’s death for some families. Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and other legal documents are all examples of estate planning.
In legal/fiduciary terms, a trust is a contractual arrangement in which one party has legal title and controls the property on behalf of another party. An option may be to work with a fiduciary who has legal title while serving as a trustee and administering the property on behalf of the other party. Upon the individual’s death for whom the trust was formed, assets are dispersed under different conditions than those provided in a will.
Free Initial Consultation with Lawyer
It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Legal problems come to everyone. Whether it’s your son who gets in a car wreck, your uncle who loses his job and needs to file for bankruptcy, your sister’s brother who’s getting divorced, or a grandparent that passes away without a will -all of us have legal issues and questions that arise. So when you have a law question, call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you!
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506