Estate Planning Services
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.
What is Included in a Comprehensive Estate Plan?
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust is a “living” trust and not a dying trust. The term revocable means that you have complete control over the decisions you make regarding how you want your estate assets managed when you pass. At any time during your lifetime you can change, add to or change your decisions. You are in complete control.
Living Will/Advanced Medical Directives
This legal document enables you to decide the level of care you want should you ever become incapacitated or ill and unable to make decisions on your own. Often referred to as “pull the plug or don’t pull the plug”, this legal document is an integral part of the healthcare environment in the U.S.
Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a “wish document” and subject to probate court to determine the validity of the document and to allow anyone to contest the wishes of the deceased. It is not a contract. The accompanying legal document to the revocable living trust is referred to as a “pour-over will”. This document specifically addresses titled assets that haven’t been funded into the living trust when the person is alive. Those assets will be subject to probate court and the “pour-over will” will direct the court to “pour” the assets into the trust to then be distributed to the beneficiaries of the trust.
Durable Powers of Attorney – Financial and Healthcare
A power of attorney will give your appointed agent the power to make decisions when you are unable to do so while you are living. You will appoint someone of your choosing to serve in this capacity for both financial and health matters.
How Safe Money Partners Can Help You With Your Estate Planning
Legacy Planning Associates will enable you to complete your estate plan, including all the documents, in a convenient, simple, and affordable manner. Our firm utilizes highly specialized software that has been specifically developed by technology professionals working with expert estate planning attorneys. Our simple and easy to complete questionnaire gives you the power to personalize your estate plan to your family’s needs and desires.
Working with Legacy Planning Associates on your Estate Plan is your first step towards protecting your family’s estate now and in the future. If you decide that a more comprehensive estate plan is right for your family, we work with Joseph Downing Law, to help provide these services for our clients.
Estate planning is a life-long process that involves making decisions and choices as your life situations change. Oftentimes people make excuses for not doing an estate plan because they feel they don’t have enough assets to be concerned about. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you have total assets over $50,000 including a home and life insurance, you should consider owning an estate plan. If you have minor or disabled children, there’s all the more reason to have a revocable living trust.
In the uncertain world we live in, being prepared is an important topic for everyone to consider. We are here to answer your questions and show you why owning a customized family estate plan is one of the best investments for peace of mind you can ever make.
Contact us to learn more about how estate planning can bring you one step closer to a “peace of mind” financial future.