A lot of people feel as though the estate planning process is a bit overwhelming. They avoid it because they do not know where to begin. There are various different ways to go about it, and the right strategy will depend upon the circumstances.
This being stated, there is a basic framework that is universal, and we will look at it in this post.
The first order of business will be to state your asset transfer decisions in writing. A simple will is the most commonly used document, and this is certainly an option.
If you use a will, the administration process is not as simple as you may think it is, because a will may need to be admitted to probate.
The executor completes the hands-on administration tasks, and this is done under the supervision of the probate court in many circumstances. Probate serves some purposes, but it creates inconveniences for the rightful inheritors.
Most people would like their family members to receive their bequests promptly, and this does not happen when a will is being probated. It will take about a year if there are no particular complications. Typically, no inheritances can be distributed while the estate is being probated by the court.
There are also expenses that accumulate during probate, and there is a loss of privacy. Anyone can obtain probate records to find out how the assets were distributed.
If these negatives do not sound very appealing, you can use a living trust instead. Assets in the trust could be distributed to the beneficiaries outside of probate.
This is just one of a number of different types of trusts that can be used to facilitate asset transfers. The best choice will depend on the situation, and this is one of the reasons why you should discuss your options with a licensed estate planning attorney.
No one is especially anxious to think about this inconvenient fact of life, but incapacity is very common among elders. Alzheimer’s strikes 10 percent of all seniors, and almost a third of people that are 85 years of age and older have contracted the disease.
This is not the only cause of cognitive impairment, and people of all ages sometimes become unable to communicate due to physical health conditions. If you do nothing to prepare for these eventualities, the state could appoint a guardian to act on your behalf. It may not be the person you want.
There is also the matter of your wishes regarding life-support if you become unable to communicate when you are in a terminal condition.
These are personal choices that you should make for yourself, and you can do that in advance if you execute the appropriate incapacity planning documents. With health care directives, you can state your life-support preferences.
You can use a health care power of attorney to name an agent to make medical decisions on your behalf if it becomes necessary. To account for financial decision-making, you should include a durable power of attorney for property.
This is another area that can be well served by the utilization of a living trust. You would act as the trustee when you are alive and well. When you establish the trust declaration, you would name a disability trustee to assume the role if you become unable to administer the trust yourself.
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