What’s the Importance of Having an Estate Plan?
Having an estate plan is essential to make sure your wishes are carried out, and your assets are safeguarded in the event of your death or incapacity. An estate plan provides a roadmap for your family and loved ones to follow when you can no longer manage your affairs, ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes and in the most tax-efficient way.
Estate planning can also ensure that you have a say in your own medical decisions if you become incapacitated and that you can provide for any dependents that are financially dependent on you. Without an estate plan, important decisions would be left to the courts, which could lead to unwanted outcomes, costly legal battles, and significant delays.
Types of Estate Planning Services
An experienced attorney can advise you about creating an estate plan that meets your needs and supports your financial goals and objectives. Some of the estate planning services we offer include:
What Are the Elements of a Successful Estate Plan?
When creating an estate plan, there are some essential elements you’ll need.
Last Will and Testament
A will is a legally-binding document outlining your wishes for the distribution of your property, assets, and finances after you pass away. You could also include a designation about who will be the guardian for your minor children or dependents in your will.
A living trust allows you to transfer assets into a trust during your lifetime. The trustee can manage the assets in the trust and distribute them according to the terms of the trust document upon the grantor’s death. The assets held in trust will not be included in the deceased’s probate estate.
Otherwise known as an advance directive, this document outlines the medical treatments you would like to receive if you become incapacitated or unable to make those decisions for yourself.
Power of Attorney
This document designates someone you trust to manage your finances and make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This person can act in your place and make decisions about financial or medical matters.
Parent Contingency Plan
This document outlines what will happen to your minor children if something happens to you. It will detail who will take custody of the children, who will provide for their financial needs, and other important considerations.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is a legal entity. When a person establishes a trust, they fund the trust by re-titling their assets into the name of the trust. The trust is managed by a trustee who handles the assets of the trust and distributes them to the trust’s beneficiaries upon the death of the grantor or according to the timeline set out in the trust document.
A trust can be used for various purposes, including avoiding probate, protecting assets from creditors, managing estate taxes, providing for minors or special needs beneficiaries, and more.
What Is Probate Administration?
Probate administration is the legal process of transferring a deceased person’s assets to their heirs according to the terms of their will or state laws if no will is in place. Probate involves submitting the decedent’s will to the court, identifying and inventorying the decedent’s assets, paying off any creditors and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to the rightful heirs. The probate court supervises the process to ensure all assets are properly transferred.
What Is a Guardianship?
Guardianship is a legal designation granted by the court. The person who is appointed guardian has the authority to make decisions about basic care and daily necessities on behalf of an incapacitated adult.
This process typically involves a petition to the court, where the proposed guardian must provide evidence that the proposed ward (the person who needs a guardian) cannot make decisions concerning their health and welfare due to disability or incapacity.
Once the court approves the guardianship, the guardian is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the ward, such as medical treatment and personal decisions. The guardianship may be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances.
Guardianship of minors is also possible.
What Is a Conservatorship?
A conservatorship is a legal process that appoints a person (the “conservator”) to manage the financial affairs of someone who cannot do so on their own (the “conservatee”). The conservator is responsible for making decisions related to the conservatee’s property and assets, such as managing finances and handling legal matters, and acting in the incapacitated person’s best interests.
What Is Estate Litigation?
Estate litigation is the process of resolving disputes regarding the interpretation and enforcement of wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents. Estate litigation can occur before or after a person’s death but typically occurs after death. Estate litigation may involve disputes among family members, creditors, and beneficiaries and might challenge the validity of the will or trust.