Estate Planning Basics
A brief description of the basic documents in estate planning.
The Revocable TrustThe common misconception about trusts is that they are only for the wealthy. There are a number of benefits that a trust provides that can be valuable to everyone, some of those are:
- Avoids the probate process if property funded and maintained;
- Allows distribution over time, as opposed to a lump sum;
- Avoids ancillary probates for property outside of your resident state;
- Typically successor trustees have an easier time dealing with asset companies over acting as a power of attorney;
- Typically allows for a more efficient administration and quicker disbursement to beneficiaries;
- Avoids the need for a conservatorship during time of incapacity; and
- Provides more privacy than a will.
WillsWhile a will does not avoid the probate process, it does provide other important benefits, such as:
- Designates a guardian for your minor children;
- Allows you to distribute your property to specific persons or charities, in the amount you choose;
- Names whom you want in charge of administering your estate; and
- Waives an otherwise required probate bond that can be costly.
Power of Attorney for Financial AffairsA power of attorney is only operative during your lifetime and typically only used during a time of incapacity, the benefits of having a power of attorney are:
- You decide whom will make financial decisions on your behalf;
- Can avoid the need for a court ordered conservatorship; and
- Allows your agent the ability to do a very wide range of financial actions on your behalf, for your benefit.
Advance DirectiveAn advance directive provides instruction to your doctors and allows you to name whom you want in charge of making certain health care decisions for you, if you are no longer able to communicate those desires.
- Documents your wishes concerning medical treatment at the end of life. For example, do you want tube feeding? Do you want life Support?
- Designates a health care representative.
- Allows you to express other specific desires for end of life decisions.
- Provides guidance to your loved ones so they are not forced to make those decisions on their own.