What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of planning out how your estate will be managed after your death. More simply stated, estate planning is the process of creating specific legal documents that address how the individual or married couple wants their financial, material, and family matters managed.

The plan includes power of attorneys and advanced medical directives that address your health and financial wellbeing. These documents are critical during your adult lifetime. They specifically come into “play” if you become incapacitated and unable to perform financial functions or make decisions relative to your health. Your plan also includes a revocable living trust which serves as the centerpiece of your comprehensive estate plan by providing specific directives as to how you want your estate settled at the time of your death.

Who is Estate Planning For?

Everyone has an estate plan consisting of two options. The options are either the government’s plan called probate court or a revocable living trust. Any estate of value beyond personal belongings will be subject to either the government’s probate court plan or outside of probate via a revocable living trust.

Probate court directs the distributions of the estate assets according to the last will and testament created by the deceased. In cases where there is no will, the court will generally settle the estate according to the laws of intestate referenced by the state laws where the deceased lived. The probate court process includes filing fees, estate questionnaires, creditor announcements, appraisals, legal fees, and time in order to complete the process. Estate privacy concerns are also lost due to court documents and estate information being a part of the public domain.

As compared to the time, cost, stress, inconvenience, and loss of privacy associated with the government probate court process, having a revocable living trust makes matters much quicker and simpler by not having to endure the court process, pay legal fees, and sacrifice estate privacy concerns. The estate can be settled in short order according to your decisions.