Having an estate plan can eliminate confusion, expensive delays and overall bad outcomes, according to an article appearing in The Martha’s Vineyard Times, “Estate planning.” Working with an experienced estate planning attorney will enable you to communicate your wishes and cushion your family during the challenging time after your passing.
Here are some things that you will be addressing when you do your estate planning:
If you are looking to avoid probate, you should create trusts. Note, however, that you will need to retitle assets into the name of the trust to avoid probate. You will also need a will to name guardians for minor children and make sure that if any assets are not titled into the trust during life, that the will pours them back into the trust after probate.
Your plan should include a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney allows someone to act on your behalf for financial matters concerning assets not owned by the trust. People typically choose their spouse, if he or she is alive. Be careful if you select someone other than your spouse, because he or she can control your money. A significant level of trust is required. In addition, be careful that many institutions will only accept powers of attorney on their forms or under certain conditions. That is why we recommend getting POA’s preapproved by the institutions, or better yet, have assets titled in the name of a trust whenever possible to minimize having to use a power of attorney.
A durable power of attorney for healthcare is also needed in the event that you become incapacitated. Your designated agent can make healthcare decisions for you, which helps avoid arguments between family members regarding what treatment you should receive.
Lastly, a living will is what will provide details on your wishes about what kind of treatments you do or do not want at the end of your life (it’s the “pull the plug” document). Make that decision yourself, while you’re healthy and able.
Although it’s not the most fun exercise, completing all these steps eliminates many potential problems, and provides several benefits:
- You will avoid or minimize probate if you create and retitle assets in the name of a trust;
- You will provide reasonable financial stability to your family when they can most use it, and can responsibly handle it;
- You will control the timing and method of distributing assets to beneficiaries;
- You can be certain that your wishes are honored, if you’re no longer able to act for yourself;
- You may provide some tax benefits, so your assets last longer for your beneficiaries; and
- You can have conversations with your family about what to expect in your estate plan.
Estate planning may not be as much fun as scheduling a trip to scenic Vermont for Ben and Jerry's and Cabot Cheese, but at Family Estate Planning Law Group, we recognize this. We know that the peace of mind an estate plan delivers is well worth the investment. Through our unique process of emphasizing taking care of your family with our ongoing client care program and through empowering clients by holding regularly scheduled educational events, we help clients achieve this peace of mind. For more information, explore our website and contact us to schedule your consultation today!
Reference: Martha’s Vineyard Times (December 5, 2017) “Estate planning”