It’s important to have a comprehensive estate plan if you want to make sure your assets are distributed correctly when you pass away. When a person passes away without an estate plan, the intestate succession state laws will determine how their estate will be distributed upon their death.
Don’t let the state be the one who determines how your bank accounts, real estate, or other assets will be distributed. By following these four simple steps, you can develop an estate plan that will fulfill your wishes.
#1: Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney
The first step to developing a comprehensive estate plan is to contact an experienced attorney. Estate plans consist of extensive legal documentation, so it’s important that you have the guidance you need to ensure the documents are valid and will in fact, help you distribute your assets accordingly.
Many people like to turn to DIY estate planning. However, an online program can only work properly in a few instances. Plus, you won’t know if yours works until it’s too late. When it comes to protecting your family, it’s best to ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive to the court and will distribute your assets like you want them to.
Need help creating an estate plan? Contact Crain & Wooley today at (972) 945-1610 to schedule a consultation!
#2: Evaluate If a Will or Trust Is Best for You
A last will and testament is the most traditional estate planning tool. Many of us are familiar with this option as it has been in existence since our country was founded. In fact, we took our will law from old English law. A will MUST go through the probate process to have legal effect. A living trust is a more recent (in terms of the law) estate planning option that allows individuals to avoid the probate process.
A living trust is a legal document in which your assets are placed during your lifetime. They are then transferred to designated beneficiaries after you pass away. When creating a trust, you would need to select a representative or “successor trustee” that will help transfer assets to your beneficiaries.
Trusts can be extremely beneficial for property owners since they can help avoid probate and taxes. Trusts can help your beneficiaries save both time and money. It is best to speak with your attorney to determine if a trust can benefit your loved ones.
Without a will or trust in place, the government will be the one who decides how to distribute your assets according to state laws – which might not align with your last wishes. For such reasons, it is vital that you work with your attorney to draw up a will that will list your beneficiaries (who you would like to receive your assets).
Parents with underage children can also name a guardian for them if both parents pass away.
#4: Complete Power of Attorney Documents
At Crain & Wooley, we consider a complete Power of Attorney document set to consist of: a financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney, a declaration of guardian in advance, a global HIPPA release, and a directive to physicians (aka a living will).
These documents allow you to choose a person who can make decisions on your medical and financial decisions on your behalf if you are physically or mentally unable to.
For example, if a father appointed his eldest son to be his medical power of attorney, the son would be responsible for making medical decisions related to the father’s medical care if the father becomes incapacitated.
How Do I Get Started?
Estate planning touches every part of your life. It plans for everything thing you have worked for and everyone you care about. For such reasons, it is important that you consult with an experienced attorney to determine estate planning tool best protects your family, your assets, and your well-being in any given situation. Our Texas estate planning attorneys offer comprehensive, flat-rate services that serve clients of all backgrounds throughout their lifetime. We make estate planning simple to better prepare you and your family for the future.
Contact us today at (972) 945-1610 to schedule a consultation!