Wills • Probate & Administration • Powers of Attorney • Statutory Durable • Real Estate
Later is too late.
Everyone has an estate, whether they are considered wealthy or not. Your estate consists of everything you own – your home, personal property, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. To ensure your wishes are carried out the way you want, you need to provide a set of written instructions. This is Estate Planning in a nutshell.
“A legal declaration of a person’s wishes regarding the disposal of his or her property or estate after death especially a written instrument legally executed by which a person makes disposition of his or her estate to take effect after death.”
“The action or process of proving before a competent judicial authority that a document offered for official recognition and registration as the last will and testament of a deceased person is genuine.”
“The process of collecting and managing the estate, paying any debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs of the estate.”
“The authority to act for another person in a specified or all legal matters, which typically remains in effect until the death of the principal or until the document is revoked. There are two main types of POA: Statutory Durable which handles financial matters; and Medical which handles medical matters.”
Only two things in life are certain – death and taxes. Estate Planning has something to do with both. A good estate plan carries out your wishes and instructions and makes it happen with the least amount paid to taxes, legal fees, and court costs. An estate plan should:
People tend to think of Estate Planning at key times during their lives. For example, at the birth of their first child, when they retire, or upon the illness or death of a parent. The truth is, the right time to create your Estate Plan is now, before something happens.
A Will is a document that provides your instructions on how to distribute your property when you pass on. Not everything you own is controlled by your Will. Joint property and assets that allow you to name a beneficiary (life insurance, IRAs, etc.) will usually transfer. A Will has to be probated upon your death. There are ways to avoid probate, which we will discuss in a later article.
POWER OF ATTORNEY (POA)
There are several types of POA. Some allow a person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself. Others allow a person to make financial decisions for you under the same circumstances. POAs can be limited in the powers they authorize to your agent, or they can be rather broad, depending on your needs and wishes.
DIRECTIVE TO PHYSICIANS
Sometimes referred to as a Living Will, this document is where you outline your wishes in case you become terminally ill and need to be on life support.
You may need other documents, depending on your estate and your situation. Your plan should be personalized to include all the things you want and need. For example, you may want to include funeral and burial instructions for your loved ones to follow. Also, pay attention to the words and definitions used in your Estate Planning documents. Some of the standard definitions may not fit your situation, especially if you have a blended or non-traditional family. Be sure that general terms like “spouse,” “heirs,” and “children” are clearly defined to fit your situation and your requests. Tessmer Law Firm forms every estate plan around the individual client and their circumstances. We do not believe in using templates or one-size-fits-all estate plans!
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to consult with an experienced attorney. Then, you can be certain you have addressed every possible concern and left nothing to chance.
Now that you know the basics, are you ready to get started? Contact us and schedule your Estate Planning consultation today!