We Can Help You Create an Estate Plan
A will is a legally enforceable, written declaration of a person’s intended distribution of their property after their death. It describes how a person’s assets will be divided and to whom it will distributed one passes. This document also names the person(s) who will manage your estate at your death. Finally, please note that this document or declaration is “revocable” during the lifetime of the maker or “testator” and is only operative upon the death of the testator.
It is important to note that a will governs the disposition of assets held in your individual name only. It does not govern assets held in “joint tenancy” or those assets that designate a beneficiary. However, a will can help ensure that your individually owned assets transfer at your death as you intended.
Often you can use a will in conjunction with a living trust. You can create this during your lifetime for your own benefit. At your death, the trust will distribute your assets in the same way a will does, but without the high degree of court involvement.
You may want to consider establishing a living trust if you want to:
- Avoid probate
- Create long-term trust for your heirs
- Protect assets should you become incapacitated or eventually need help managing your financial affairs
Durable Power of Attorney
With a durable power of attorney, you designate an individual to make financial decision on your behalf with respect to your individually owned assets. The power of attorney may be broad, or you may limit the powers that you grant to such an individual.
This document also provides incapacity protection if you become disabled. Please note, however, that assets transferred to your living trust are not governed by the power of attorney. Instead, your trustees will have decision-making authority with respect to those assets.
Assets that designate a beneficiary, such as life insurance policies or retirement assets, will pass automatically at your death to the designated beneficiary, regardless of your will or living trust. As a result, take time to review these designations to help make sure they are consistent with your overall estate plan and personal goals.
Health Care Directive/ Living Will/ Power of Attorney for Health Care
With these documents, you name your health care agents to act on your behalf for medical treatment decisions if you’re unable to act for yourself. These documents also express your specific wishes with respect to the administration of life-prolonging procedures when you cannot communicate them.