The term “estate” may make you think of old money, mansions, and the very rich, but estate planning is important for everyone. Very simply, an Estate Plan allows you to make decisions now about what will happen in the future regarding your money, property, medical care, and your family. A skilled Estate Planning Attorney will tailor a plan to suit your specific needs, utilizing a variety of estate planning tools. 6 Steps to a Successful Estate Plan.
Do you have a will? Despite what you may think, everyone over 18 years old who owns any real or personal property should have a will. A will is a legal document that determines how your property will be distributed upon your death and allows you to name a personal representative to oversee the process. Without a valid will, the state (not you) will determine who inherits your assets. An experienced attorney can help you draft your last will and testament, ensuring your wishes regarding burial, guardianship of minor children and other important provisions are honored. A properly drafted will may also help reduce taxes owed after your death.
Powers of Attorney
It’s never too early to make provisions for your care in case of a severe illness or injury. A Power of Attorney for Health Care (HCPOA), also known as a Health Care Proxy or a Health Care Power of Attorney, is a legal document that authorizes someone of your choosing to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and cannot make those decisions for yourself.
Similar to a health care power of attorney, a Durable Financial Power of Attorney (DPOA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to step in and make decisions for you financially if you become ill or injured and you can’t take care of your own finances. With a financial power of attorney, you name a trusted person to pay bills, make bank deposits, watch over investments, collect insurance or government benefits, and handle other money matters on your behalf.
In 2012, important changes were made to the Uniform Power of Attorney Act. If your current POA was created before 2012, talk to an experienced Estate Planning Attorney.
When it comes to end of life care, we’d like to think that our loved ones would honor our wishes, but some medical decisions can be difficult. That’s why everyone should have a Living Will. If you become terminally ill or permanently unconscious, a Living Will allows you express your wishes about the use of life-sustaining treatment.
A Revocable Living Trust is a written agreement through which one person (the Grantor) gives property to another person (the Trustee) to manage under the terms of the trust and names beneficiaries. Speak to a qualified estate counsel to learn more about this important estate planning tool.
Not a Cookie Cutter Plan
At Elk & Elk, we put our clients first. Every person’s estate plan is different. We will consider your wishes and needs to create an estate plan that is tailored to your specific situation. Whether you want to update an existing will or are in need of a comprehensive Estate Plan, let us create a plan to meet your particular goals and give your family the future they deserve.