Estate Planning... Definitely Not Just For the Wealthy
Many people are put off by the term "Estate Planning" and mistakenly believe it to be something reserved solely for the wealthy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Estate planning simply means taking steps to be in control of what will happen under various circumstances, regardless of the size of your estate. Simple, affordable documents can be implemented that will save you and your loved ones significant amounts of time and money.
Here are a few of the important documents you should consider:
Last Will & Testament: Wills DO NOT help you to avoid probate, but they DO allow you the opportunity to decide who will be in charge of your estate and to whom your estate should pass. Without one, it is up to the State's "laws of intestacy" to dictate. A Will also allows you to set forth preferred guardians for your children and provide that assets going to your children can be held in trust for their health, maintenance and education. While having a Will in place does not avoid the need for probate, a Revocable Living Trust can (See below).
Durable Power of Attorney & Designation of Healthcare Surrogate: These important documents can help avoid the need for a guardianship proceeding if you become incapacitated. Many people assume that a spouse can automatically take care of financial & healthcare matters for their ill-spouse, but that is not the case. Guardianship proceedings are costly and pose on-going obligations for filing accountings and reports with the Court.
Living Will: A Living Will allows you to dictate that under certain circumstances, you do not wish for artificial life-prolonging means to be used to keep you alive. This can help ease the burden of your loved-ones having to make such a decision.
Revocable Living Trusts: Not everyone needs a Trust (or Trusts) in their estate plan, but unlike a Will, a properly drafted and funded Trust may help you to avoid the need for probate. Probate costs money (including court costs and attorneys fees), takes time, and makes the debts and assets of your estate a matter of public record. Trusts can save time and money, and help maintain privacy. Trusts may also help avoid, or reduce, estate taxes.
The above documents are not meant to be an exhaustive list of items in your estate plan, but they provide an overview of the basics.
PROPER ESTATE PLANNING REQUIRES THAT EACH CLIENT'S CIRCUMSTANCES AND NEEDS BE TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION, INCLUDING:
Special Concerns Related to Seniors - The Possible Need for Future Nursing Home Care
Unique Issues Faced by Domestic Partners - Lack of State and Federal Law Protection for Partners
Whether this is a First or Subsequent Marriage
Protecting Your Children's Share of Your Estate
Protecting the Share Going to Incapacitated Beneficiaries
This is why you should never trust your estate planning to impersonal "form-generating" internet systems, books, or someone who has not updated their files in years.
"I take the time to personally listen and explain your options. I will make estate planning a relaxed, informative experience for you, and will tailor your estate plan to your specific needs and goals." - Suzette M. Alfonso
Call now to set up your FREE 30 minute initial consultation regarding a new Estate Planning, Probate, or Domestic Partner Planning matter. (813) 238-4529