The Importance of Estate Planning
Estate planning is a process that involves making plans in advance concerning how you want your assets and property to be managed, distributed, or disposed of upon your death or sudden incapacitation. These are legal documents that provide detailed instructions about how to settle a deceased person's final affairs or transfer assets to heirs and beneficiaries.
Regardless of your age or health, estate planning is important because it can help you achieve the following:
- Prepare for future uncertainties
- Protect your property, assets, business, investments, and interest
- Make provisions for your surviving spouses, children, and other loved ones
- Convey your final wishes in the event of incapacitation
- Provide clear instructions to your heritors and descendants
- Give you complete control over who inherits your property and assets
- Choose a trusted person as your personal representative
- Protect your minor children and ensure that they are properly cared for
- Protect assets and investments from frivolous lawsuits and creditors
- Help heirs and beneficiaries avoid gift, inheritance, and estate taxes
- Avoid potential disputes and conflicts between family members over asset distribution
- Prevent dying intestate (without a will)
Important Documents in an Estate Plan
Depending on your unique situation, here are some important estate planning documents that you should include in your estate plan:
A will is a legal document that contains detailed instructions about how you (the testator) want your property and assets to be transferred to inheritors or disposed of upon your death. You can name a guardian in your will to help manage inheritances left for minor children.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship that allows you (the guarantor) to choose someone else (trustee or successor trustee) to manage your affairs and help distribute assets left in the trust to heirs and beneficiaries upon your death or sudden incapacitation.
Setting up a trust is an excellent way to simplify the transfer of assets and help your loved ones avoid the difficulties of probate. When you're gone, the appointed trustee will step in and administer your estate in accordance with the provisions of the trust document.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows you (the principal) to appoint a person (an agent or “attorney-in-fact”) to help manage your property, tax, legal, or financial affairs should you become unable or unavailable to make such decisions on your own. You can designate such legal authority to your friend, advisor, lawyer, or a trusted loved one.
An advance healthcare directive is a legal document that provides detailed instructions about a person's preferred medical care in the event that they become unable to make such decisions by themselves, maybe due to sudden incapacitation, disability, or terminal illness.
Special Needs Planning
Special needs planning is a fiduciary relationship that allows you to choose a trusted person to manage any asset, property, or funds left behind for your minor children or a vulnerable adult who is unable to manage such assets or funds as a result of their physical or mental impairment.
Work with an Experienced Attorney
Planning for an uncertain future can never be too early. Should you become incapacitated, unavailable, or otherwise unable to voice your opinion, your loved ones can benefit from knowing your exact wishes. If you need proper guidance when drawing up your estate plan or want to understand how the estate planning process works, consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial.
At the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, our team has the resources and experience to assist and guide clients in various estate planning matters. As your legal counsel, we can help you understand how the estate planning process works, explore your possible options, and create the ideal estate plan that best suits your unique needs.
Whether you need help drafting a will or living trust, or want to update your existing estate plan, we can guide you through every phase of the whole process and help you make informed decisions. Our team will work diligently to address your needs and concerns, craft a solution to protect your estate, and help you achieve your goals for distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs.