Planning for Your Future, Today
“Ms. Nagel understood my needs and was very forthcoming about what I should and should not do. I like the fact that she offers you as a client the opportunity to review your will every year. Caren was very attentive and made the necessary changes on a moment’s notice. She was very professional and pleasant to work with. I would recommend this office for all your legal needs.”
An experienced attorney can evaluate your personal needs and goals to provide estate planning specific to your circumstances. Choosing to work with such an attorney now means that you are dedicated to protecting and preserving your finances and making appropriate preparations for the future no matter what happens. With the help of your attorney, you can design a Will that is legally sound and/or develop trusts that meet your specific needs. This means that your estate plan will serve you well and leave your legacy intact.
The ideal attorney will offer to meet with you every year to assess and discuss any changes to your situation that may require updates to your estate documents.
Do You Need a Will?
A Will helps avoid costs and complications for your heirs when you die. Besides providing instructions about gifts of your property (like your home, car, investments, and jewelry) your Will can also provide instructions for payment of your debts and selection of a personal representative for your estate.
If you leave no will, you give up your right to decide who inherits your property (as well as the right to disinherit heirs) and it will be distributed according to state law, which may be quite different from your actual preferences.
Additionally, if you die without a Will, you lose the opportunity to select a guardian for any minor children and an executor for your estate. Court-appointed administrators and guardians may not be the person you would have otherwise chosen to handle these affairs.
Dying without a will can be costly and may complicate the transfer of your property.
Why Should You Consider a Living Trust?
Like a Will, a Trust can be used to transfer your property when you die, but the similarity ends there.
Unlike a Will, which has no effect until you die, a living trust is operative during your lifetime. With a living trust, sometimes called revocable trusts, you transfer all (or some) of your assets into a trust and continue to use them during your lifetime. After you die, your trustee will transfer ownership of these assets to the beneficiaries named in the trust, often allowing these assets to be excluded from the probate process.
A will is also a part of public record once you die and a trust is not, providing you (and your heirs) greater privacy than a will would alone.
Other Important Estate Planning Documents
Power of Attorney
This is a document that allows you to name someone to handle all your financial affairs, in the event you are unable to do so. A well-prepared Power of Attorney allows your chosen representative to act on your behalf and deal with banks, government entities, insurance companies, and more.
Designation of a Pre-Need Guardian
This allows you to name someone to act as your guardian, in the event you become legally incapacitated, instead of a court-appointed stranger.
Sometimes called an “Advance Directive”, this is a document that leaves instructions for your end-of-life medical care if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This can alleviate painful disputes among family members who would otherwise be left making their best guess.
Health Care Surrogate
This document allows you to name a representative to handle all of your medical decisions if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate your wishes for yourself.
The information provided here is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to knowing all you need to know to have your estate plan in place. It is critical that you meet with a local attorney who is experienced in this area of law. At Merideth Nagel & The Legacy Legal Team, our focus is always to provide the best options for each client, as no two individuals have the exact same needs.
Contact us today for a free evaluation of your estate and how best to prepare it for your future.