From The Simple Will To The Most Complex
If you desire a simple will, a power of attorney, a designation of health care surrogate, or living will, we can certainly assist you with those documents at an incredibly competitive price. However, if you need complex estate planning to protect your assets, we are here for you as well.
Why Planning Is Crucial
People will make arrangements for their death by making a will and buying a burial plot in a benevolent effort to make the grief process of their loved ones run a lot smoother after they are gone. However, they fail to realize that they have forgotten that a simple will often has the effect of tying their estate up in probate proceedings for some time after they are gone. Probate is not always a simple process and can be burdensome to the personal representative of the estate, the beneficiaries, and the assets of the estate. Probate can often cost the estate a lot more than you would expect in both fees and taxes.
Aside from probate, families can encounter a lot of grief in the process of your dying if you are in a situation where you are unable to communicate your decisions and they do not have the power to make decisions for you. Even if you’ve told them what you would like done, they most likely will not have the power to act on your wishes unless they are in writing.
The 5 Most Important Documents
The way to avoid these dilemmas is to have what I call The 5 Most Important Documents To Have Before Leaving Planet Earth. They are: a Revocable Living Trust, a Pour-Over Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, a Designation of Health Care Surrogate, and a Living Will.
Revocable Living Trust
A Revocable Living Trust is a document that is a contract between you as the Settlor/Maker of the Trust and you as the Trustee of the Trust. Once you create it, you place all your assets in it because the Successor Trustees you appoint (usually your spouse or trusted family member) will then hold the assets (according to the terms of your trust) for the benefit of your designated beneficiaries upon your death. It’s important to do this because your estate (all you own) will avoid having to go through probate (being administered through the courts) after your death. A trust allows the trustee to administer your estate to your designated beneficiaries after your death without waiting for probate and paying the associated costs. That’s the main attraction of a revocable living trust along with some nifty tax benefits to boot. You don’t have to be rich to have a trust, it usually makes sense to have one no matter how small your estate.
A Pour-Over Will is a document that is created along with a trust to “pour-over” into your trust any assets that you may have failed to put into your trust before you died. If you did fail to place them into your trust, it is a rather simple matter of filing the pour-over will with the court, and then transferring the assets to the trust upon court approval. That’s why it’s so important to assign and/or re-title your assets to your trust to avoid the delay and expense of probate proceedings. But, we can all sometimes be forgetful and that’s why a pour-over will is created along with your trust.
Durable Power Of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney eliminates the need for the appointment of a guardian should you ever become incapacitated and unable to manage your financial affairs. Guardianships are both costly and time-consuming. With a Durable Power of Attorney, you determine ahead of time who has the authority to act on your behalf if there comes a time when you are unable to make decisions for yourself. The person you choose to act on your behalf is called an ‘Attorney-In-Fact’. The Attorney-In-Fact must be someone you trust to handle your financial affairs, such as a spouse or close and trusted relative who would be responsible with your financial affairs. Your Attorney-In-Fact can pay your bills, do your banking, sell and invest securities, handle your taxes, etc.. The Attorney-In-Fact can be empowered to do everything you can do as if he or she were standing in your shoes, or you can limit the powers of your Attorney-In-Fact. You can avoid the expenses, delays, and hassles of a guardianship simply by executing a Durable Power of Attorney in advance.
Designation Of Health Care Surrogate
A Designation of Health Care Surrogate designates a health surrogate or agent to make health care decisions for you and to provide informed consent if you are unable to make your own health care decisions. If there was such a situation in which you were not able to make decisions about your health care for yourself, there is a possibility that the courts would be called upon to appoint someone to make decisions for you in the absence of a designated health care surrogate.
A Living Will is often mistaken to be the kind of will we usually think of; one which devises (gives) your assets to a loved-one. But that’s not a Living Will. A Living Will is a document that directs your physicians and health-care providers to withhold or withdraw the application or continuation of artificial life-longing procedures or to perform any heroic measures when doing so will only artificially prolong or delay the process of dying. It directs those physicians to only perform such procedures that will allow you to die naturally while providing you with comfort, dignity, care, and the alleviation of pain.