Creating an estate plan can ensure you are able to provide a detailed arrangement of your affairs in the event that you become incapacitated. People often think they don’t need an estate plan, however, if you die without a will, a probate court decides what happens to your estate. An estate plan includes a will, trusts, which includes revocable living trusts, health care directives or living wills, powers of attorney for medical or financial reasons and a guardianship for any minor children you may have. An estate plan does not have to be complicated or expensive; it just has to be done properly and ensures all your needs are met. Your estate planning wishes will likely change over time, but you can update your estate plan to serve your needs as they change.
Your estate includes all of your assets and debts; it can include any of the following: investments, bank accounts, cars, houses and other real estate, personal belongings and life insurance. The goal of estate planning is to save and secure all of your important assets and bring down the costs your estate will pay in taxes, legal fees, and court fees. There are several legal documents included and each one serves an important and different purpose. Here are some common estate planning documents:
- Last Will and Testament – a critical portion to your estate planning; this document specifies how your assets are going to be divided, who will be the guardian of your children (if applicable) and who will carry out your wishes. Keep in mind, this document goes into effect after you have passed away.
- Power of Attorney – this is when a trusted relative or close family member is named to make decisions on your behalf. There are different types of powers of attorney that vary on circumstances. These include healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney. These powers of attorneys become in affect when you are deemed incapacitated.
- Revocable Living Trust – a legal document that places your assets into a trust during your lifetime. Beneficiaries are designated and it can help you avoid the probate process, not in every situation, but sometimes that is the biggest benefit.
It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you are just starting out with your estate planning. We advise that having an experienced estate planning attorney can provide a sense of understanding and security. Here at DAL Law Firm, we can help you navigate the planning process and make the best decisions for you and your family. Call or text us today at (206) 408-8158. We look forward to helping you.