Your social media feed may soon be filled with photos of sisters, books or bow ties as we commemorate some quirky national days this month. Far more important than national Sister or Pythagorean Theorem Day (yes, it’s a thing), August is Make a Will Month.
Although a will is important, it is just one piece of a bigger estate plan that makes a difficult time a bit easier for loved ones. An estate plan is your personal blueprint for what happens after your incapacitation or passing. So, why settle for just a piece?
Make August your estate plan month and contact an attorney to draft a complete plan that may consist of these important documents:
Living Trust: The source through which you will communicate your wishes related to managing and transferring property after your death or incapacity. While a will might also be used to communicate these wishes, a trust is preferred in many states, because property directed by the trust passes outside the often expensive and time-consuming process of probate (a process in which a court decides for you).
Will: A document that may also direct the transfer of property in certain states and also nominates guardians for children, an executor to funnel assets left out of the trust into the trust, and a conservator to act on your incapacity. Without a will, the court – a stranger – will make these decisions for you.
Powers of Attorney: The means through which you will nominate a person(s) to make financial and healthcare-related decisions if you are unable to do so. A healthcare power of attorney (also known as an advanced healthcare directive) lets others know what medical treatment you want and your preferences about pain relief, life support and organ donation. A power of attorney for financial matters authorizes a nominated agent to carry out tasks such as paying for everyday expenses, watching over investments, filing taxes and/or collecting retirement plans or insurance benefits.
Making $ense of Probate
A legal process in which a court determines the validity of a deceased person’s will. Probate also includes the administration of a deceased person’s estate by the appointed executor (named in the will) or an administrator (named by the court in absence of a will). Estate administration includes collecting assets, paying liabilities and taxes and distributing property to heirs.
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