This legal document is the basis of a successful estate plan. A comprehensive estate plan includes four estate planning documents. These documents include a will, financial power of attorney, advance care directive, and living trust. A will provides instructions for distributing your assets to your family and other beneficiaries in the event of your death.
Your lawyer can customize your provisions to meet your needs. You appoint a personal representative (also known as an “executor”) to pay final expenses and taxes, and then distribute your assets. If you have minor children, a will is the only way you can appoint a guardian for them. To be effective, you must file a will in probate court after your death.
Probate probate is a judicial process to manage your assets if you become incapacitated and to transfer your assets in an orderly manner when you die. The court oversees the payment of liabilities and the distribution of assets. Usually, your personal representative will need to hire an attorney. Because a will does not come into effect until you die, you cannot provide for the administration of your assets if you become incapacitated.
That's why it's important to have other estate planning documents, discussed below, that come into effect in case you become incapacitated. A power of attorney is a legal document in which you name another person to act on your behalf. This person is called your agent or agent. You can grant your designated agent broad or limited management powers.
You should choose this person carefully because they will usually be able to sell, invest and spend their assets. A traditional power of attorney ends in case of disability or death. However, a permanent power of attorney will continue during the inability to provide a financial management safety net. A permanent power of attorney ends at the time of your death.
A permanent power of attorney for health care authorizes someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do it yourself. This document and a living will (see below) can be invaluable in avoiding family conflicts and potential court intervention if you are unable to make your own health care decisions. A living will expresses your intentions regarding the use of life-sustaining measures in the event of a terminal illness. Express what you want, but it doesn't give anyone the authority to speak for you.
In some states, this document may be combined with a power of attorney for health care. There are many different types of trusts with different purposes, each of which serves a variety of purposes. A revocable living trust is a type of trust that is often used in a. By transferring assets to a revocable trust, you can provide ongoing management of your financial affairs throughout your life (when you are incapacitated, for example), upon your death and even for generations to come.
Your living revocable trust allows trust assets to avoid probate and reduces the likelihood of personal information. You can change the provisions of a revocable trust at any time in your life. If you act as your own trustee, you will continue to manage your investments and financial affairs. In this case, your account could be titled “(Your name), trustee of the revocable living trust (your name) dated (date).
Because this legal entity exists beyond your death, assets titled in the trust do not need to go through probate. Assets held in the name of your trust in revocable life at the time of your death will prevent probate. An advance medical directive, also called a medical power of attorney or health care substitute designation, allows you to designate a health care agent to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them. It can also be used to appoint someone to act as your guardian or conservator if a court determines that you are mentally incapacitated.
A financial power of attorney allows you to delegate to the person you choose the ability to manage assets that are titled only in your name. If you have retirement plans or jointly titled assets, they can manage them for you. It can also be used to transfer assets to your revocable living trust if you become mentally incapacitated before the trust has been fully funded. It is important for a person to have their advance directives in place.
As part of implementing a comprehensive estate plan, a person must have a Last Will and Testament and, in some cases, a living trust. A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to control who will inherit your assets after your death and name someone you trust to serve as your executor. Your executor will administer and distribute your estate in accordance with your wishes, as set forth in your Last Will and Testament. By executing a valid will, you can control (i) who inherits your assets, documenting your wishes, (ii) who manages your estate, designating someone you trust as your executor; and (iii) you can ensure that you maintain your loved ones in a protective manner.
After your death, your executor will have to legalize your last will and will if you have a testamentary estate. Probate is the legal process of submitting the Last Will and Testament to the Surrogacy Court for approval. The Last Will and Testament will only govern property that was owned exclusively in the name of the deceased at the time of death and that have no designated beneficiaries. Property that the decedent owned upon death and that has the right of survival, designation of beneficiary or that are in trust shall pass through law enforcement outside the Last Will and Testament.
Many people choose to establish a living trust when one of their estate planning goals is to avoid probate probate. One of the most important benefits of avoiding probate probate is that your assets will pass on your death to your beneficiaries without the delay and costs involved in an estate proceeding in the Surrogacy Court. This is important because it allows the decedent's beneficiaries to gain immediate access to assets for the payment of the deceased's funeral and other expenses. Similar to the last will and testament, a living trust will allow you to control who inherits your assets by documenting your wishes, who manages your estate by appointing someone as your trustee, and guarantees that you can make sure you keep your loved ones in a protective manner.
You must also have an investment will in case you do not fully fund the revocable living trust (such as a safety net) that dumps into the trust any assets outside the trust that do not have a beneficiary designation. This type of will is known as a revolving will and contains minimal instructions, since your revocable trust is the main document that governs your estate plan. However, there is much more to include in your estate planning to ensure that all of your assets are seamlessly transferred to your heirs after your death. Your estate planning lawyer will be able to help you prepare all the estate planning documents you will need for your situation.
Regardless of your age or net worth, you need an estate plan to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets during your lifetime as well as after your death. Depending on your current family and financial situation, your founding estate plan will include four or five essential estate planning legal documents. Let's take a moment to review the 5 important estate planning documents, what they are and why they are important. The first step in the planning process is to create a comprehensive Statement of Equity that shows all your assets, including taxable accounts, tax-deferred accounts (IRAs, annuities, retirement plans), and life insurance investments.
Before you visit your lawyer, it helps to have a basic understanding of the documents you can recommend for your plan. A fundamental component of all estate plans is that an individual needs five essential estate plan documents. A will or trust must be one of the main components of any estate plan, even if it has no substantial assets. Insurance plans must include a beneficiary and a contingent beneficiary, because they can also pass outside of a will.
If you don't write a will, your assets are distributed according to the plans outlined in your state's intestate succession laws. Not everyone needs an estate plan, but everyone should have a will, which is a key component of an estate plan. . .