Many adults start to recognize the need to plan for the future as their professional and personal lives grow. Whether it is an increase in salary and savings or a couple extra mouths to feed, there is an immediate need for at the very least a basic estate plan. Having a plan for after you die, even if you have little to no assets, will give you ease and will prevent possible family disputes or costly legal fees that may arise in the future. A good plan will identify how your financial and medical matters will be handled, maximize the value of your estate and help your family avoid costly probate.
Our goal is to efficiently address our client’s legal needs while also understanding that talking about the subject of death can be daunting and uncomfortable.
Most families choose to write a will for their estate planning needs. When a person dies without a valid will, his or her assets will pass by “intestate succession,” or according to state law. Each state has its own laws to determine how property will be distributed. Having a will ensures that your assets pass according to your wishes and not by the laws of the state.
More and more families are choosing trusts as their primary estate planning tool. It is no longer used just for the wealthy as those with modest assets can also benefit from trust planning. A trust directs how and when trust assets are distributed to your beneficiaries. Trusts are also commonly used to help avoid probate, to maintain privacy, and to retain control and management of assets during your lifetime.
Other Estate Planning Choices:
- Special Needs Trusts
- Advanced Directives (Directives to Physician’s)
- Power of Attorneys
- Appointment for Disposition of Remains
- Asset Protection
- Beneficiary Designations
An estate planning attorney can help you decide which options would work best for your unique family needs.
Probate can be avoided in certain situations. Discuss with a probate attorney if the estate includes any of the following:
- Revocable or Irrevocable Living Trusts
- Beneficiary Designations
- Transfer on Death Deed
- Right of Survivorship accounts and Joint Tenancy
- Small Estate Affidavit
- Muniment of Title
- Affidavit of Heirship
The two types of guardianship include guardianship of the estate and guardianship of the person. A guardianship of the estate is necessary when the ward cannot make financial decisions on his or her own due to a disability. Guardianship of the person is necessary when the ward can no longer take care of his or her health and well-being. Guardians must act in the ward’s best interests at all times.
Contact an attorney to help guide you through the guardianship application process.